A year after publication of the revised procedure, Gisha and HaMoked file Freedom of Information application seeking information about how the new version of the settlement procedure is applied
The Procedure for Handling Applications by Gaza Strip Residents for Settlement in the Judea and Samaria Area (the settlement procedure) stipulates the conditions under which Palestinians from the Gaza Strip may move to live in the West Bank. The procedure was put to paper as part of HCJ 3592/08 Hamidat v. West Bank Military Commander, in response to a need to present the policy that limited relocation from the Gaza Strip to the West Bank. The procedure sets forth extremely stringent requirements for such relocation.
Given the rigidity of the criteria stipulated in the procedure, a High Court of Justice petition was filed against it (HCJ 2088/10 HaMoked: Center for the Defence of the Individual et al. v. Commander of the West Bank). In the proceedings, the state undertook to amend the procedure in keeping with comments made by the court, which found the conditions for relocation to the West Bank overly strict.
On November 26, 2012, Gisha and HaMoked filed an application (Hebrew) under the Freedom of Information Act 5758-1998 to the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), requesting information about how relocation applications are processed and how many had been filed, rejected and approved under the original version of the settlement procedure.
The application never received a proper answer and on July 14, 2013, the two organizations filed a petition – AP 26662-07-13 Gisha et al. v. COGAT (Hebrew). In response, four months after the petition was filed, and almost a year after the Freedom of Information application was filed, COGAT disclosed the requested information. A joint statement (Hebrew) submitted on December 11, 2013 indicated that the number of applications filed subject to the procedure was zero and that the address changes approved when the original version of the procedure was in effect were not a result of applications made under the procedure.
In July 2013, the state presented a new version of the settlement procedure. Gisha and HaMoked argued that the changes had been merely cosmetic. On August 18, 2014, about a year after the procedure was revised, the organizations filed another application under the Freedom of Information Act (Hebrew). The new application (as the previous) concerns the number of applications and how they are reviewed under the revised version of the settlement procedure. With this new application, the organizations aim to see if the revisions brought a change in how applications are reviewed and how many are approved.