Following Gisha’s petition – West Bank resident will be able to finish a program at the Arava Institute, AP 29507-12-14 a-Radaydeh et al. v. COGAT et al.
On December 14, 2014, Gisha filed an urgent administrative petition (Hebrew) to the Tel Aviv District Court, sitting as the Court for Administrative Affairs. The petition was filed on behalf of a West Bank resident enrolled in a program at the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies, and on behalf of the institute itself. In the petition, the court was asked to lift the ban issued against the petitioner’s entry into Israel in order to complete the program. Following Gisha’s petition, the petitioner was allowed to enter Israel and complete the program he began at the Arava Institute.
The Arava Istitute, located at Kibbutz Ketura, north of Eilat, offers environmental research programs geared toward Israelis, Jordanians, Palestinians, as well as people from the rest of the world. Palestinians living in the West Bank are able to participate only if they receive a permit to enter Israel, which is given following an in-depth security screening, as the program runs for four months and requires overnight stay in Israel.
The petitioner, a Palestinian resident, was accepted into the Arava Institute program and was given a stay permit, including overnight stay, from September 2014 until mid-January 2015. He began his studies at the institute on time, and with the permit he received, he returned to visit his home in the West Bank once a month. Until recently, these visits presented no difficulties.
Toward the end of November, representatives of the Israel Security Agency (ISA) arrived at the petitioner’s home in the West Bank, with a summons for a “security conversation”. The petitioner went to the meeting. During his conversation with an ISA interrogator, the interrogator focused on the petitioner’s social connections with his colleagues at the program, especially the Jewish colleagues. He also asked about other activities the petitioner was engaging in as part of the program. The petitioner was offered a salary for collaborating with the ISA, but he politely declined. The next day, the petitioner left his home and headed for the Meitar crossing in order to return to the program, but when he arrived at the crossing and presented his permit, he was told he was banned from entering.
This conduct is a breach of both international law and the principles of good governance. International law explicitly prohibits pressuring protected residents (i.e., residents of the occupied territory) into collaborating and providing information. The respondents broke this prohibition, ignoring their duties and seriously violating the petitioner’s rights to education and freedom of occupation. The decision to deny his entry into Israel robs him of the opportunity to finish the Arava Institute program, and it is neither reasonable nor proportionate. In addition, the respondents failed to consider Israel’s public interest in fostering regional cooperation on environmental issues.
To minimize the petitioner’s forced absence from the program, the petition was accompanied by a motion to schedule an urgent hearing. The court responded, instructing the respondents to submit their response to the motion, with reference to the remedies sought in the petition, by December 17, 2014. On December 17, 2014, the parties submitted a notice to the court (Hebrew), stating that the petitioner was issued a permit to enter Israel, valid until January 5, 2015, and that he may apply to have it extended.