Court grants East Jerusalem widow last-minute reprieve from deportation

12:00 Aug 21 2013 East Jerusalem

Arab neighborhoods in East Jerusalem are seen in the background as tourists walk atop a wall surrounding Jerusalem's Old City, August 13, 2013. Photo by Reuters

Nahil Rajbi married a Palestinian resident of Jerusalem in 1994 and has lived there since 1995; their six children are permanent residents of Israel.

By Amira Hass for Haaretz

The deportation of the widow of an East Jerusalem resident, the mother of his six children who are permanent residents of Israel, was averted at the last minute on Wednesday following submission of an urgent petition to the High Court of Justice.

On a routine stop of cars near the Old City, Border Policemen discovered that Nahil Rajbi did not have a permit to be in the city. Although Rajbi’s case is now being examined by a special Interior Ministry committee, a senior official at the Population Registration Bureau told a Border Police officer that if the woman is illegally present in the city, she must be deported immediately. The Border Police officer then began the procedure to deport her on Wednesday.

Rajbi, 38, a West Bank resident, married a Palestinian resident of Jerusalem in 1994 and has lived in the city since 1995. The oldest of their six children is 17, the youngest is 5; all are registered as permanent residents of Israel. The husband, who was addicted to drugs and alcohol, neglected to make the necessary bureaucratic arrangements for his wife’s residency, and submitted an application only in 2006. The request was approved in 2012, and Rajbi received a Jerusalem residency permit valid for one year. Because of legislation restricting the granting of residency or citizenship to Palestinian spouses of Israelis, in cases like Rajbi’s, only a residency permit is issued. When Rajbi’s husband died in January, her residency permit was automatically revoked.

In March of this year, Rajbi applied, through the Center for the Defense of the Individual, to a committee that recommends cases to the interior minister in which residency status should be granted on humanitarian grounds, and asked that she be recognized as a legal resident of the city despite her husband’s death. At that same time, the Interior Ministry turned down a separate request by Rajbi to extend her residency until the committee makes its recommendation.

The Center for the Defense of the Individual on Wednesday submitted an urgent petition to the High Court against Rajbi’s deportation and to give her a residency permit in Israel. While Judge Yoram Danziger did not issue an interim order against the deportation, he wrote: “It may be assumed that until a decision is made on the disposition of this case, the respondents will not take irreversible steps or steps that make the petition unnecessary. “

Based on Danziger’s ruling, the High Court petitions department in the Justice Ministry instructed the State Prosecutor’s Office,the Interior Ministry and the police not to deport Rajbi.
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