Gisha petitions High Court against a Ministry of Interior procedure that allows for the registration of marital status of an Israeli citizen who marries a foreign national to “under review” for a period of six months
On June 8, 2015, Gisha filed a petition (Hebrew) to the Supreme Court of Israel sitting as the High Court of Justice, asking that Section C(2) of the “Procedure on Amendments and Corrections to Marital Status (Marriage/Divorce/Widowhood)” (Hebrew) be repealed. Gisha argued in the petition that the section institutionalizes an injurious and unlawful practice that allows population registry clerks to change the marital status of an Israeli citizen who marries a foreign national to “under review” for a period of six months.
Gisha argues that procedure is ultra vires, as registry clerks may not doubt citizens’ requests to have their personal information changed, inasmuch as the requests are supported by official documents, such as a marriage contract that has been confirmed by a religious court. This particular practice also violates human dignity, autonomy and the right to equality, as Israeli citizens who marry one another are registered as “married” immediately and are not required to wait six months. The practice also serves no appropriate purpose, seeing as the citizen’s marital status is changed to “married” once the six-month period is over, regardless of the circumstances.
Section C(2) of the procedure is particularly injurious when it comes to the rights of Israeli citizens who marry residents of the Gaza Strip. Such couples are able to fulfil their spousal and family life together only in Gaza (subject to the Citizenship and Entry into Israel Law (Temporary Order) 5763-2003), by way of the Israeli spouse obtaining a permit from the military commander to enter the Gaza Strip. These permits, however, are not issued so long as the Israeli spouse is not listed as “married” in his or her ID card. Therefore, the procedure causes a significant delay in the couple’s unification and violates their rights to freedom of movement and to family life.
The Ministry of Interior has told the court before that it would re-evaluate section C(2) given Gisha’s arguments, but the protocol has thus far never been amended in a way that would eliminate the harmful practice. The petition seeks the immediate revocation of this section.
Subsequent to the submission of the petition, the court ordered the Ministry of Interior to file a preliminary response within 60 days.