According to Israeli law, a person who is unable to independently afford legal assistance for certain issues is eligible for free legal assistance from the State. As such, it is possible to receive assistance on issues regarding status in Israel according to the Citizenship Law or Law of Return. But it is especially those needing this assistance the most who are not eligible: East Jerusalem residents.
The residents of East Jerusalem - who were born there and have a strong and deep tie to the city - are living in Israel with the status of permanent residency. Theoretically, they are eligible for all the same rights and services of citizens, but in actuality, the State treats them as foreigners whose status can be revoked any time. They are forced to prove again and again their residence in the city to the Ministry of the Interior and the National Insurance Institute, and their status is often revoked randomly and without the right to contest.
In addition to this, East Jerusalem residents are receiving most services of the Population Authority in only one center in the eastern part of the city. The overload there is severe, and the handling of inquiries takes an extensive length of time. Basic services like adjusting the status of children or spouses require the inquirers to pay fees amounting to thousands of shekels to submit endless documents. Many are forced to use the assistance of lawyers or courts to get what they need. Most residents of East Jerusalem are living in poverty and are unable to independently fund their legal representation.
Based on this, ACRI’s Attorney Abir Joubran Dakwar appealed to the Minister of Justice, demanding that this harsh violation of the rights to equality and access to courts be corrected, and that it be determined that residents of East Jerusalem will be able to receive legal assistance from the State on matters of status.