In this article, you will read about the general legal issues faced by residents of East Jerusalem and one specific success story. There are many difficulties faced while residents of East Jerusalem apply for Israeli citizenship, but with the help of our law firm, a smooth and successful process is ensured. This article discusses the successful case of East Jerusalem resident, Amjad Safuri.
Process of Becoming a Recognized Citizen of Israel from a Resident of East Jerusalem
Becoming a recognized citizen of Israel for residents of East Jerusalem is not as easy and fluid of a process as you may think. Despite the fact that East Jerusalem is considered to be Israeli territory after the 1967 Six Day War, it was not until many years after that these residents even qualified to apply for citizenship status for a plethora of reasons. After the Israeli government acquired this territory, residents of East Jerusalem did not want to obtain Israeli citizenship in protest to the defeat of Jordan. As years passed, these citizens of East Jerusalem now wish to surrender their Jordanian passports in order to obtain full citizenship status and rights in Israel.
Difficulties Faced by Residents of East Jerusalem
Unlike many other citizenship processes, this one is very drawn out and can take several years to be processed. As of this year, only 5% of Palestinian residents of East Jeruslaem have Israeli citizenship since 1967. This proves how this process is often neglected, as well as is an extremely difficult process to succeed in. One criteria for this process is to surrender your Jordanian passport so that you will then only be recognized as an Israeli citizen, but Jordan made a law in which residents of East Jerusalem may not revoke Jordanian citizenship, in efforts to try and maintain control over this land for as long as possible. In order to combat Jordan’s attempt to have power over their lost area, the Israeli government altered the law that the upcoming citizen must sign documents, promising to only use their Israeli citizenship and send their Jordanian passport to the Jordanian Embassy.
Background on Amjad Safuri’s Case
In the case of petitioner Amjad Safuri’s, he was born and has lived in Shuafat of Jerusalem, Israel all of her life. The respondent in the scenario is the Population and Immigration Authority, who is responsible for regulating the status and registration of citizens in the State of Israel. After all of her time living in East Jerusalem, Safuri decided that he desires all of the benefits that come with being an Israeli citizen, rather than just a permanent resident.
Once finally getting through the first obstacle, the time it takes for someone to acknowledge her case, a second obstacle presented itself rather quickly. The respondent quickly claimed that the petitioner did not qualify for citizenship under section five of Israeli Citizenship Law. Under this law, the Population and Immigration Authority claimed that Safuri’s electricity bills do not comply with the law, but Safuri argues that these bills do not adequately indicate the use of this property. Safuri then asks the court to annul the decisions made on both May 10, 2021 and June 23, 2021 as he believes that he does meet all of the conditions of Citizenship law.
Illegal Questioning without the Knowledge of the Clients Lawyer
This case was directly filed against the director of the Population and Immigration Authority of East Jerusalem, as her evidence against Safuri was obtained through an illegal telephone hearing. The rejection of Safuri’s citizenship request was solely based on the electricity bills falsely provided by the Jerusalem Electric Company, and with complete disregard to all other evidence (i.e. high school graduation, health insurance, bank account information, etc).
On June 21, 2001, Safuri received a call from Qalandiya’s Bureau, in which he was asked a series of questions that he did not wish to answer without her attorney present. The continuous pressure from the bureau made Safuri feel as if he had no choice but to answer the questions out of fear. This is completely illegal and should not have been a conversation that should be taken into account when determining the outcome of this case. Two days later, the decision to deny Safuri’s citizenship request was made solely based on this illegal phone conversation.
Appeal to the Original Decision
On July 13, 2021 an appeal was filed against the Authority’s decision on the grounds of the illegal interview that swayed the ruling unfairly. It explained how the electricity bills were unreliable, further causing East Jerusalem Electric Company to be sued in a class action lawsuit over the unreliability over its bills. Along with this, the illegal interview is now being brought into question and how all other pieces of evidence provided by Safuri were disregarded after the illegal phone call took place. It was then proved that these bills alone may not constitute conclusive evidence and that the interview of the petitioner was conducted in an illegal manner. In accordance with section 3 (b) of the Administrative Courts rules and regulations, a petition was filed against the decision of the authority.
Success of Safuri’s Case
Firstly, the petitioner was able to prove that the electricity consumption in the house was not adequately represented in the bills from the company, as the company has not produced adequate numbers for years now. Later in the case, the company faces a legal fine of NIS 8 million as compensation for their illegal actions. To further strengthen her case, it must be noted that the petitioner is a young man who has always lived/currently lives with her mom, therefore has no knowledge regarding the accounts of the house. When the ilegal phone call in question occurred, Safuri did not have answers to the questions, as he genuinely did not know much about the specific bills of her mother’s home. Rather, this interview brought light to how the Electric Company does not read and assess bills properly to their clients.
This issue was later brought to court in a class action suit. More information regarding the living citation of Safuri and her specific apartment is now dissected by the court, in order to ensure that the proper requirements are met. The new information further proves that the conditions of the apartment, amount of people who reside within, and the price of the electricity bills all make sense, therefore eliminating this as a possible reason for Safuri’s citizenship request to be denied.
Judge Dafna Barak Erez ruled the following: “For the purpose of contradicting the ‘presumption of eligibility’, the authority must present real administrative evidence, and doubts alone are not enough for the Ministry of the Interior to determine that the claimant did not convince him of its existence.” The petitioner submitted numerous pieces of evidence to the center of her life in Israel, while the authority could not bring one solid piece of evidence proving that the petitioner did not live in her house or that he was faking documents regarding her Israeli lifestyle. Ultimately, the Supreme Court ruled that the respondent erred with the initial decision, due to the fact that there were not real, concrete doubts presented to the court at anytime proving that any of Safuri’s documents were falsified.
As according to the Supreme Court in HCJ 349/99 Maximov v. Minister of Interior: “In the absence of any suspicion as to the petitioner’s residence outside Israel, and since no evidence was presented on behalf of the respondent, the respondent erred in rejecting the appeal and in not granting the petitioner citizenship. It is only a matter of harassing the petitioner in an attempt not to give him herx right under the law, and nothing more.” The original ruling of this case ignored Safuri’s right to a fair trial, which was ultimately reversed by the Supreme Court. Adjustments to the rules and regulations regarding interviews were then updated at this point.
Ultimately, Safuri was finally granted Israeli Citizenship on the 7th of June. Along with this, she was invited to pledge allegiance to the state of Israel.
Legal help by an Israeli Immigration Law Firm
If you are facing a similar situation, or any issues related to your application for citizenship process, feel free to reach out to our Immigration Law Firm, conveniently located in both Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. Our firm contains several extremely talented and knowledgeable lawyers in their respective fields, who can ensure that your process runs smoothly, fairly, and without major complications.