JERUSALEM, September 17, 2013 (WAFA) – A report by the Catholic human rights group, the Society of St. Yves, published on Monday said the Israeli Ministry of Interior has rejected 43% of the applications for family unification submitted by Palestinians since the year 2000 and 24% of the child registration applications submitted since 2004.
It said that the ministry denied the registration of 12 minors under 14 years of age due to security reasons.
Palestinian residents of Jerusalem or Israel who marry spouses from the West Bank, Gaza or outside the Palestinian areas have to submit an application for family reunification with the Israeli Ministry of Interior for their spouses to be able to live with them.
However, the ministry has stopped processing such applications, mainly for spouses from the West Bank or Gaza, since the late 1990s and keeps extending a law freezing family reunification every time the period stated in the law, which is six months, expires.
Palestinians accuse Israel of following an ethnic cleansing policy against them to keep a clear Jewish majority in Israel.
Between 2000 and July 2013, the Ministry of Interior received 12,284 family unification applications, said St. Yves. A total of 5,629 applications were approved and 4,249 rejected.
It said that 20% of the rejected applications were done due to security concerns and 13% were rejected on bases of the center of life policy, which means that the applicants could not prove that their center of life was in Jerusalem or Israel.
The figures also indicate that there is a big delay in processing the applications and taking decisions in them, said the report. In 2012, 809 new applications were filed while just 332 cases were concluded.
The Society of St. Yves, which defends Palestinian rights in Jerusalem, said that due to the delay in processing applications, some 10,000 persons are living in uncertainty, which is proportionately 2.6% of the population in East Jerusalem.
The report said that between 2004 and July 2013 the Ministry of Interior received 17,616 applications for child registration – 12,247 were approved and 3,933 rejected, which means 24% of all decisions were negative.
Of the rejected cases, 29% were refused on the grounds of the center of life policy and 12 cases rejected on security grounds. In addition, 1,436 cases were pending.
In the cases of child registration through the family unification process between 2000 and 2013 239 applications were filed – 120 application were approved and 75 rejected. One case was rejected due to security reasons and 44 on the bases of the center of life policy.
The “humanitarian committee” which was established in 2007 and is charged with examining individual requests for family reunification based on specific humanitarian grounds, received 900 applications between 2007 and mid 2013.
In 121 cases the committee ruled in favor of the applicants and 415 cases were rejected.
Between 2012 and mid-2013, no positive decision was given by the committee. Out of a total of 176 cases submitted in 2012, 59 were rejected. There are still 364 cases pending.
Raffoul Rofa, director of the Society of St. Yves, said the figures “highlight the irresponsibility of Israeli governmental institutions.”
“The policies the Israeli Ministry of Interior implements on family unification and child registration scatter Palestinian families and violate the ‘right to a family’ under Human Rights Law. The affected families live in a situation of instability that can last for several years and cause tremendous psychological and social effects on the families and their children. This violates basic rights under International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights Law,” said the director.