Following Gisha petition, HCJ issues order nisi instructing the Ministry of Interior to explain discrimination in the registration process against Israeli citizens who marry foreign nationals

The High Court granted Gisha’s request and issued an order nisi (conditional order) instructing the state to explain, within 60 days, why it delays the registration of marriages between Israeli citizens and foreigners. Gisha filed the petition about 18 months ago, challenging sections in a Ministry of Interior procedure that allow ministry officials to delay the registration of marriage in ID cards when Israeli citizens marry foreign nationals.

The procedure allows the Ministry of Interior to register the marital status of the Israeli spouses as “under review” for three months.

The order was issued after a High Court hearing held on December 6, 2016, during which counsel for the state admitted that the probationary period is not required for guaranteeing the authenticity of the marriage certificates, but for distinguishing between those who married foreigners and those who married Israeli citizens. The purpose of this distinction, however, was not clarified.

Gisha argued in the petition that the Ministry of Interior has no authority to delay registering marriages of Israeli citizens, whether they marry other Israeli nationals or foreign nationals, so long as they present an admissible marriage certificate, as required by law and as instructed by the High Court in a variety of cases over the years. Gisha also argued that keeping the marital status as “under review” is not only injurious and degrading, but actually denies Israeli citizens rights and benefits granted only to people who are registered as married. In particular, this delay denies Israeli citizens who marry Gaza residents’ entry into Gaza so long as their marital status has not been updated to “married”. Gisha also argued that marital status registration has no bearing on the foreign spouse’s legal status in Israel, so that there is no justification for delaying it (the registration of the marriage itself does not automatically result in the regulation of the foreign spouse’s legal status in Israel, which is subject to separate protocols).

Gisha hopes that once the petition is accepted and the order nisi is made absolute, the injurious section will be removed from the Ministry of Interior procedure, bringing an end to the injustice and harm done to thousands of Israeli citizens and their spouses, and to the violation of their dignity and rights, primarily the rights to freedom of movement and family life.

For details on the legal proceedings and references to the documents click here.