Court Rules Israel Can't Deny Residency of Palestinian Whose Son Stabbed a Policeman

Judge rules that Mustafa Khatib's mother should not be punished for her son's actions in 2015 attack, reversing sanction imposed by interior minister

Nir Hasson
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Israeli Border Police in Jerusalem (illustrative photo), April 8, 2020
Israeli Border Police in Jerusalem (illustrative photo), April 8, 2020Credit: Ariel Schalit/AP
Nir Hasson

An Israeli court ordered the Interior Ministry last week to grant temporary residency to a Palestinian whose son carried out a stabbing attack in October 2015.

The Jerusalem District Court ruling reversed a decision made by Minister Arye Dery to effectively expel her from the city, which Judge Oded Shaham said was meant to punish her “for actions she did not commit and is not responsible for.”

Mustafa Khatib, aged 17, was shot and died at the scene by colleagues of the stabbed policeman, who was mildly wounded, outside Jerusalem’s Old City.

His West Bank-born mother, whose full name is barred from publication by law as her children are under 18, married a Palestinian resident of Jerusalem 23 years ago, and in 1999, three years after she moved to the city, applied for a residency permit, based on a family unification application her husband had filed.

She met all the criteria required by law to be granted residency, and her application process neared its close at the time of her son’s attack. In 2016, the Interior Ministry said she would not be granted a residency permit, arguing her son’s actions and the “family environment he was born and raised in, which shaped his personality,” can’t be ignored in examining her application.

The state aimed to expel the woman from Jerusalem, arguing she could “endanger public safety,” but the move to revoke the temporary permit she held was blocked by two courts, after the defense proved she had no knowledge of her son’s actions and did not support them.

In March, Israeli human rights group HaMoked Center for the Defense of the Individual petitioned the court in a bid to force the state to give her a permanent status. The judge accepted the group’s arguments that she “has nothing to do” with her son’s actions and “should not be punished for them,” ordering the Interior Ministry to renew her temporary permit, which should enable her to complete the procedure that would eventually grant her permanent residency.

In 2018, the prosecution argued against the decision to freeze the revocation of her residency by saying that the Interior Ministry’s decision became concrete after the mother failed to condemn her son’s act.

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