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Israel May Bar Arabs, Immigrants From Courts

Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman has signed on regulations that require plaintiffs to cite their Israeli ID numbers or foreign passport numbers on the documents they file. Although the ministry said the cases of individuals such as migrant workers, Palestinian residents of the territories and stateless individuals who have no passport will be referred to a registrar or judge, civil rights activists say the new regulation will bar those without foreign passports from filing lawsuits in Israeli courts.

The regulations, which are to take effect on September 1, require that anyone filing suit in Israeli court must state their Israeli ID number and for those who are not residents of Israel, they 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.

In response to an inquiry from Haaretz, the Justice Ministry said that the courts administration has issued instructions to the clerk’s offices at each courthouse that in cases in which the prospective plaintiff has no ID number, the matter should be referred to a registrar or judge. However, jurists who work with migrant workers say the regulations would constitute a procedural impediment to access to Israeli courts for thousands of people a year.

Oded Feller, a lawyer for the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, wrote a letter to the justice minister warning that the new regulations requiring ID or passport numbers will immediately deprive Palestinian residents of the territories, migrant workers and stateless individuals who have no passports from filing suit in Israeli courts because, according to Feller, the court clerks will not accept their court papers without the required identification number. Neeman’s office did not respond by press time.

For more, go to Haaretz.com

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