Providing Legal Aid in the Adjustment of Status of Palestinian Couples
The Legal Aid Law, 1972, secures the right to legal aid funded by the state on certain matters for those unable to afford the cost of representation. Among other matters, legal aid is given in lawsuits concerning family reunions and adjustments of status for couples and children of Israeli citizens according to the Citizenship Law, 1952. However, for years, the Legal Aid Division has refused to grant legal aid and representation in such matters when the spouse or the children seeking status adjustment are Palestinian residents of the Occupied Territories. According to the Legal Aid Division, matters of this population are handled under a separate law (Citizenship and Entry into Israel Law (Temporary Order)), 2003, which does not qualify them for legal aid.
On 16.6.2020, ACRI appealed to the Minister of Defense and the acting Deputy Head of the Legal Aid Division, demanding that this discriminatory and illegal situation be rectified. In the appeal, Attorney Gadeer Nicola, Director of the Arab Minority Rights Unit at ACRI, noted that presently, a significant population, predominantly compromised of Arab citizens and their Palestinian spouses, is forced to represent themselves alone against State authorities in protecting their constitutional rights to equality and domestic matters, without any support whatsoever from Legal Aid bodies. Furthermore, the position of the Legal Aid Division is wrong, and opposes the very essence of the Legal Aid Law.