Justice Ministry to Review New Regulations That May Ban Palestinians, Migrants From Filing Suits in Israeli Courts

Tomer Zarchin
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Tomer Zarchin

The Justice Ministry will reexamine the wording of new regulations it has issued barring individuals without a passport or ID card from filing lawsuits in Israeli courts.

Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman last week signed regulations requiring plaintiffs to cite their Israeli ID or passport number on documents they file. Civil rights groups protested against the regulations, which are due to come into effect on September 1.

Attorney Oded Feller of the Association for Civil Rights in Israel warned Neeman the regulations will immediately deprive Palestinian residents of the territories, migrant workers and stateless individuals who have no passports the right to file claims in Israeli courts.

The regulations stipulate that anyone filing claims in court must state their Israeli ID number. Those who are not Israeli residents must note the number of their passport and the country that issued it. A large number of migrant workers who cross the border illegally from Egypt arrive here without passports.

Feller said the right to go to court is a fundamental right in Israel and is also guaranteed by international conventions on the status of refugees and stateless individuals. He noted large numbers of Palestinians do not have Palestinian Authority passports.

Head of the Justice Ministry's Legal Counsel Department, Dr. Peretz Segal, replied yesterday that court clerks currently register legal documents that do not bear a plaintiff's ID number. This could lead to malfunctions and difficulties in carrying out court rulings on the part of the Enforcement and Collection Authority, Passport Control and other state authorities, he wrote.

Peretz said the regulations are basically "technical" and intended "to compel plaintiffs who have an ID number to note this important, fundamental detail in the documents they file to the court so the authorities can carry out the courts' ruling vis-a-vis the right person."

Peretz said the regulations don't change the legal situation regarding the right to go to court, but due to the queries their wording will be reexamined before they come into effect.

Feller said "technical matters become fundamental when they specify explicitly who will not be able to file claims in court." He said the new regulations forbid court clerks from receiving claims from people without a passport or ID card. "We call on the justice minister to stipulate in the regulations that those who don't have an ID or passport may open court procedures," he said.

The Gisha rights group said the regulations will impede tens of thousands of West Bank residents who have no ID cards access to the courts, because Israel stopped updating the Palestinian population registration already in 2000.

Justice Minister Yaakov NeemanCredit: Olivier Fitoussi