The Interior Ministry presents… The marriage test

Married and waiting. Illustration: stock.xchag

Married and waiting. Illustration: stock.xchag

May 20, 2014. Gisha filed a petition to the High Court to cancel a regulation which sets out a waiting period of six months before Israeli citizens who marry a foreign national can officially update their personal status.

The petition was filed on behalf of H, an Israeli citizen who married a Palestinian resident of the Gaza Strip. H’s spouse cannot join him in Israel because the Citizenship and Entry into Israel Law forbids it. However, H has now discovered that the state is also making it difficult for him to move to Gaza to live with his partner.

In order to enter the Gaza Strip, H must obtain a “stay-permit” from the military commander at Erez Crossing. To do this, he has to present an identity card indicating that he is married to a Gaza resident. However, despite receiving a Beersheva Sharia Court verdict confirming that he is married, the population authority refuses to issue H with the updated identity card that would allow him to submit the request to enter Gaza for another six months.

H decided to take his case to court, but he is not the only one facing this problem. Population authority officials refuse to register marriages of any Israeli citizen who marries a foreign national except after a six-month waiting period, no matter if their spouse is from France or Sweden or anywhere else. The reason: Section G2 of the “Procedure for Changes and Amendments to Marital Status (Marriage/Divorce/Widowhood)”.

The purpose of this waiting period is to enable population authority officials to acquire further proof of the authenticity of the marriage in order to prevent false marriages between Israeli citizens and foreigners who are seeking to obtain status in Israel. But do population authority officials have the authority to decide not to register a marriage immediately? No. And a verdict from a recognized judicial instance isn’t deemed by the state sufficient for the population authority to register a marriage. Apparently not.

We hope the High Court justices decide to change this unreasonable requirement. Since the early 1960s, the court has repeatedly ruled that population authority officials lack the authority to deny registration of a marriage where appropriate proof of the marriage has been presented. H has now been waiting over three months to be with his wife. And so, not only is H’s right to consecrate his marriage being infringed upon, the population authority’s goal is also not being achieved: How can H be expected to provide proof of the sincerity of his relationship with his wife if he can’t see her?