Social Rights for Palestinian Spouses of Israeli Citizens and Residents
On 11.6.2020, ACRI petitioned the High Court of Justice, demanding that social rights be granted to Palestinians who are spouses of Israelis citizens and residents, under the National Insurance Law and other social laws. Since 2002, these people, who have lived and worked here for years, cannot upgrade their status in Israel, and are thus ineligible for social rights such as unemployment or disability benefits. Against the backdrop of the COVID-19 crisis, many of them have lost their livelihoods, and are not entitled to any support.
Since March of 2002, Palestinian family members of Israeli citizens and residents have been unable to obtain permanent status in Israel, and most of them have even been unable to receive temporary residency. This was initially a decision made by the Minister of the Interior, since the government decision in May of 2002 and August 2003, known as the Citizenship and Entry into Israel Law (Temporary Order) 5763-2003, which is renewed from time to time. The state introduced the law for security purposes, yet the policy’s blatant rationale is racism. Petitions filed against the law, including one submitted by ACRI, were rejected by a majority. The court accepted the State’s position that the security rationale was legitimate, and ruled that though it violates the right to family life and equality, it is proportionate.
Most Palestinians who manage to legally stay with their families in Israel do so with permits, but are unable to even upgrade their status to temporary residency. The difference in the set of rights granted to those with permits versus those with temporary residency is dramatic: with temporary residency one may work freely, receiving state health insurance and social security. Why, then, do family members not receive temporary residency? In the legal proceedings the State explained to the court that anyone with temporary residency receives an Israeli identity card, and can thus move more freely between Israel the Occupied Territories and back, increasing the individual’s risk to the State. The State claimed that loss of rights inherent in maintaining this status is not part of the law’s purpose, and happened as if by chance.
In 2009, we petitioned the High Court of Justice to apply the National Health Insurance Law and National Insurance Law to spouses of Israeli citizens and residents with permits, as they are de facto residents and their rights are detracted purposelessly. These laws grant the Minister of Health and the Minister of Labor, Social Affairs, and Social Services, the authority to provide the residents their rights. The procedure lasted for years and ended in 2015 with the health insurance arrangement for family members (for a high fee and complicated arrangements). Nevertheless, the state refused a social security settlement, and after years of litigation, the court struck down the petition, ruling that we could submit another separate petition with regard to social security.
For more information (Hebrew)