Gisha files petition to revoke a provision in a Population Administration procedure which delays the registration of marriages between Israeli citizens and foreign nationals, HCJ 3442/14 Qaisi Hamamdeh v. Minister of Interior
Israel allows Israeli citizens and residents who are married to Gaza residents to obtain long-term stay-permits for Gaza, issued by the military commander. To receive these permits, the Israeli spouses must register their marriage in the population registry and have their marital status changed in their ID cards. However, the Population Authority’s Procedure for Changes and Amendments to Marital Status Marriage/Divorce/Widowhood (Hebrew) (hereinafter: the registration procedure), requires a six-month waiting period before an Israeli’s marriage to a foreign national can be registered. The longer it takes the Population Authority to register the marriage, the longer the Israeli spouse is unable to enter the Gaza Strip.
Gisha has often cautioned the Population Authority about the grave harm this provision causes to Israeli citizens and residents who marry Gaza residents by forcing the newlyweds to live apart for six months. Our complaints, however, received no response, and on May 14, 2014, we filed a petition to the Supreme Court sitting as the High Court of Justice, on behalf of Qaisi Hamamdeh, an Israeli citizen who married a Palestinian resident of the Gaza Strip and has been unable to be united with her because of the provision contained in the registration procedure. The petition called for the immediate registration of his marriage in the population registry. In addition, to put an end to the recurring violation of the rights to family and to freedom of movement of Israelis wishing to be united with their spouses in Gaza, Gisha, named as a party to the petition, sought the revocation of the revocation of the six-month waiting period in the registration procedure.
The arguments presented in the petition rely on a history of case law produced by the Supreme Court, beginning with HCJ 143/62 Funk Schlesinger v. Minister of Interior (1963), where the court ruled that registration officers may not refuse to register marriages based on public documents presented to them. Gisha also argued that officers have no authority to refuse registration since the law grants no such authority either explicitly or implicitly. Another argument was that the provision contained in the registration procedure was motivated by extraneous considerations – it seems to be intended to enable an examination of the authenticity of the marriage for the purpose of arranging for the foreign spouse’s status, which is entirely separate from the issue of registration, and that in any event, the provision is unreasonable and disproportionate as it needlessly violates many Israelis’ right to family life.
To read the petition (Hebrew)