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  • ACRI

Permit Bedouin to Change Their Residences to Reflect Their Tribal Names

Bedouin citizens and residents living in unrecognized villages are entitled to register their residence in accordance with their tribal name, by virtue of Regulation 6 of the Population Registry Regulations (residence registration). However, for many years, the Population and Immigration Authority has not abided by the regulations, refusing to change the residences of those who have moved or returned to live in unrecognized villages in the Negev, leaving their residential addresses out of date. On May 17, 2022, we submitted a petition to the District Court of Jerusalem against the Population and Immigration Authority, demanding that such conduct cease and that we receive notification of changes in residence from a recognized locality to a tribal name. The petition was submitted on behalf of Bedouin residents living in unrecognized villages, ACRI, and the Regional Council of Unrecognized Villages.

The petition detailed difficulties encountered by citizens and residents whose addresses are out of date, ranging from registering children for transportation, providing medical services via health insurance, and receiving mail, among others. The petition further claims that the Population and Immigration Authority is acting beyond its authority and contrary to its role as an administrative authority obliged to provide services swiftly and efficiently. Moreover, the petition posits that this policy infringes upon citizens’ and residents’ rights to receive essential services, and even goes against the public interest, which requires that the registered address reflect the current residence in which the individual effectively lives. The petition also posits that it is hard to shed the impression that this policy derives from ulterior motives and conceals unacceptable objectives—making it difficult for Bedouin citizens to return to their place of residence in unrecognized villages, and preventing spouses from moving to live with someone who resides in an unrecognized village.

The hearing on the petition was transferred to the District Court of Be'er Sheva. Leading up to the November 21, 2022 hearing, the state submitted a request to cancel the hearing and postpone the deadline to submit a response to the petition by half a year, due to its intention to change the regulations to authorize the existing policy. In our reply, we opposed the request, asserting that an authority is not entitled to base a harmful policy that violates an existing law, on its intention to change future legislation. We requested that the state cease its policy of neglecting to update the names of Bedouin living in unrecognized villages to their tribal names, or agree to accept the petition. Alternatively, we declared that we would solely agree to a postponement should the court issue an interim order, according to which the Population and Immigration Authority will act in accordance with Regulation 6 of the Population Registry Regulations, registering Bedouin citizens’ residences in accordance with their tribal name, until another decision is made.

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