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Israel: Establishment of Immigration Appeals Tribunal

(Aug. 17, 2011) On August 3, 2011, the Knesset (Israel's Parliament) passed the Entry Into Israel Law (Amendment No. 22), 5771-2011. The objective of the amendment is to establish a special administrative tribunal for appeals of decisions of authorized agencies in matters of immigration, entry into and exit from Israel, and citizenship. (Entry into Israel Law (Amendment No. 22), 5771-2011 [in Hebrew] [hereinafter Amendment No. 22], the Knesset website (last visited Aug. 17, 2011).)

According to a brief note posted on the Knesset website, judicial review of decisions of administrative appeals courts in these matters had previously been exercised by the High Court of Justice. The establishment of an immigration appeals tribunal, according to the note, was necessitated by the heavy burden on the High Court that resulted from that procedure, as well as by the increase in the number of foreigners staying in Israel. (Brief section [in Hebrew], Knesset website (last visited Aug. 17, 2011) [click on the left side of the page, beside the listing of Amendment No. 22, to follow the link to the note].)

According to the amendment, the Minister of Justice is authorized to establish one or more tribunals of a single judge that will review appeals of agencies' decisions in immigration matters. The amendment provides that the selection of a judge for such a tribunal will be made by a committee composed of the general manager of the Ministry of Justice, who will serve as the committee's chair; a civil servant appointed by the Attorney General who is a lawyer and who is knowledgeable about the law applicable to entry and exit from Israel, as well as citizenship law; and a member of the public who is a lawyer appointed for this purpose by the civil service administration. (Amendment No. 22, supra.)

The amendment further provides for procedures to be followed in the filing and hearing of complaints before the tribunal. The amendment specifically authorizes the admission of privileged evidence in limited cases for the purpose of the protection of state and public security, foreign relations of the nation, or other important public matters. Such admission of evidence will be authorized when the tribunal judge has determined that the interest in blocking the disclosure of the evidence exceeds the need for disclosure in order to carry out justice. Decisions made by the tribunal, according to the amendment, may be appealed to the administrative courts. (Id.)