Petition to register a marriage and revoke the procedure that delays registration of marriages between citizens and foreign nationals: HCJ 4744/17 Dabas v. Minister of Interior
On July 6, 2014, Gisha filed a petition to the Supreme Court sitting as the High Court of Justice on behalf of a married couple, a citizen of Israel and a Palestinian residing in the Gaza Strip. In the petition, the court was asked to issue an order nisi for the registration of the couple’s marriage in the population registry and revoke Section C.2 of the Population Authority’s Procedure 2.11.000, Procedure for Changes and Amendments to Marital Status Marriage/Divorce/Widowhood (Hebrew) (hereinafter: the registration procedure).
The registration procedure governs how registration officers enter changes and amendments in the population registry. According to the procedure, when an Israeli marries a foreign national, his or her personal status is changed to “under review” for six months, during which time, the registration officer is to be presented with proof of the authenticity of the marriage.
This provision is an administrative arrangement that exceeds the authority of the registration officer as defined in Section 16 of the Population Registry Law 5725-1965. It also contradicts case law, as established explicitly in the Funk-Schlesinger rule. Moreover, the registration procedure ignores decisions made by official Israeli courts, namely, the decisions of the Sharia Court which confirms the validity of the marriage. In addition, the registration procedure is unreasonable, disproportionate and constitutes a violation of the fundamental rights of Israeli citizens who marry foreign nationals in general, and those who marry Palestinians residing in Gaza in particular.
The State of Israel allows Israeli citizens who marry Palestinian residents of the Gaza Strip to exercise their right to family life only in the Gaza Strip, by granting stay-permits for Gaza. In order to obtain this permit, the Israeli spouse must present military authorities with an ID card showing his or her personal status as “married”. As long as the population registry does not update the personal status, the Israeli spouse cannot enter Gaza and consummate the marriage.
The petition sought a remedy for the specific case, an order instructing the population registry to register the petitioner’s marriage immediately. But Gisha, also named as a party to the petition, sought a general remedy as well, asking the court to strike down the procedure’s provision in order to put an end to the recurring violation of the rights to freedom of movement and family life of Israeli citizens who wish to unite with their spouses in the Gaza Strip.
It is noted that the captioned petition is the second concerning the same legal issue submitted to the court over a very short period of time (see, HCJ 3552/14 Hamamdeh v. Minister of Interior). The fact that a second petition was submitted only about six weeks after the first of its kind indicates that this is a widespread problem that affects and harms a large group of Israeli citizens.
The petition has been scheduled for a hearing on September 3, 2014. Since this date exceeds the deadline for marriage registration under the registration procedure, a motion to expedite the hearing has been filed.