Population and Immigration Authority Services in East Jerusalem
On April 22, 2018, ACRI petitioned the High Court of Justice against the Population and Immigration Authority, demanding that residents of East Jerusalem be permitted to receive registry services at any of their offices throughout the country – as is possible for any other resident – and not solely at the office located in Wadi al-Joz in East Jerusalem.
The petition describes the challenging prevailing circumstances in the office in Wadi al-Joz: no option to effectively schedule an appointment to receive services therein, people compelled to wait outside in the sun for hours on end, with no shade, seating, or water facilities. The heavy workload prevents residents of East Jerusalem from receiving essential services, including: obtaining ID cards within a reasonable amount of time once they turn 16, receiving a new ID in place of one that’s worn-out or lost, and acquiring a travel document to go abroad, among other registry services.
The petition claims that the Population and Immigration Authority’s conduct violates East Jerusalem residents’ rights to equality and dignity. The petition further notes that this conduct violates the Prohibition of Discrimination in Products, Services, and Entry into Places of Entertainment and Public Places Law, 5761-2000, which prohibits discrimination on the grounds of place of residence.
Hearings on the petition lasted approximately four years, throughout which significant changes took place. Ultimately, the Population and Immigration Authority agreed to provide Arab residents of East Jerusalem with the majority of registry services (ID exchange, receipt and renewal of travel documents, etc.) at all offices in Jerusalem and throughout the country, on a few conditions: that services will solely be available to residents who have previously been issued IDs (or in some cases, travel documents) within seven years prior to the service request, not including the issuance of one’s first identity card or a change in personal status following marriage to a resident of the occupied territories. Moreover, following the submission of the petition, two more offices were opened in East Jerusalem, and services at the Wadi al-Joz office were improved.
On June 9, 2022, the High Court of Justice closed the petition with the consent of all parties. While this constitutes quite a significant change in terms of the availability of services for residents of East Jerusalem, ACRI continues to claim that the law requires the provision of equitable services for all. Yet, since the facts on the ground have considerably changed since the petition was filed, we agreed to close the petition while maintaining our principled claims.