High Court of Justice orders 'timeout' for petitions against law barring Palestinian residency in Israel

The High Court of Justice on Wednesday ordered petitioners against the Citizenship and Entry into Israel (Temporary) Law to wait until the Knesset amends the legislation and to then submit new petitions that address the new law. However, Supreme Court President Dorit Beinisch said she was not sure the court would agree to hear the new petitions since an expanded panel of 11 justices rejected similar petitions calling on the court to annul an earlier version of the law less than a year ago. The current law prohibits Palestinian women under the age of 25 and Palestinian men under the age of 35 from residing in Israel, even if they are married to Israelis. The law was originally passed in a more sweeping form in 2003, when all residency requests for Palestinians married to Israelis were frozen. The law has been amended at least once since then. The law has always been a temporary statute that the Knesset has extended from time to time. The law is due to expire on April 16, but the government was to bring the new version to the plenum for final approval on Wednesday, before the Knesset Pessah recess begins. The new law includes new provisions such as the establishment of a five-member committee to consider appeals for residency status on humanitarian grounds by Palestinians within the prohibited age range. The establishment of the committee is meant to provide a partial answer to criticism from some members of the High Court, including former Supreme Court president Aharon Barak, who said the residency ban was unreasonably indiscriminate. At the same time, the new version of the law would prohibit the granting of residency to citizens of four enemy countries, Syria, Lebanon, Iran and Iraq, who marry Israelis. Attorney Dan Yakir, the legal adviser of the Association of Civil Rights in Israel, one of the petitioners, argued that the amendments in the new version were marginal to the petitioners' main argument that the law was racist. Yakir wanted to hold a hearing on the current petitions without waiting for the new version of the law to go into effect and without having to rewrite the petitions. However, Beinisch rejected the request. She ordered the petitioners, which also include the Israeli-Arab NGO Adalah and MK Zehava Gal-On (Meretz), to submit new petitions within 30 days after the new law is finalized, and gave the state 45 days to respond to the petitions.