Friedmann: High Court Should Address Jewish Citizenship Only

The High Court of Justice should not review petitions by non-Jews on citizenship issues, Justice Minister Daniel Friedmann recently told the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee in a request to limit such petitions to the jurisdiction of administrative courts.

The committee is expected to decide on the issue on Sunday.

If the committee accepts Friedmann's proposal, the High Court of Justice will only rule on immigration matters that pertain to Jews, relatives of Jewish immigrants and collaborators who worked with security services. Friedmann submitted the proposal after consulting Supreme Court President Dorit Beinisch.

Additionally, if approved, the proposal would mean that the administrative court system will rule on family-unification issues as a first legal instance. Currently, the administrative court system is operating under Israel's district courts.

The administrative courts review petitions for the High Court of Justice, which is headed by Beinisch. They were established to free up the High Court of Justice from the need to spend resources on sorting out which petitions merited discussion.

At present, the High Court of Justice rules on citizenship matters for Jews and non-Jews alike. The administrative courts, for their part, review only matters that concern residency status.

These separate fields of responsibility mean that the High Court of Justice is the body responsible for reviewing family-unification petitions by Arab Israelis, whereas such petitions by Arabs from East Jerusalem - who are not citizens but only residents - are reviewed by the administrative court within the District Court of Jerusalem.

The administrative courts and the High Court of Justice review some 4,000 petitions that concern civilian administration issues every year.

Friedmann's proposal aims to establish a procedure that would expedite legal treatment of these requests.

Legal sources postulated that the proposal to make the administrative courts responsible for reviewing non-Jewish citizenship requests omitted collaborators because of the potential sensitivity of the cases.

Friedmann, the sources say, therefore opted to restrict discussion on these matters to Israel's highest legal instance.

More Jewish World news and features