AB and others (Risk- Return – Israel Check Points) Palestine  UKIAT 00046
Date of hearing: 15 November 2004
Date Determination notified: 1 February 2005
|Secretary of State for the Home Department||RESPONDENT|
"The grounds on which the Claimant seeks permission to appeal may be summarised as follows:
(i) as a stateless Palestinian, he would not be allowed to re-enter Israel, the country of his former habitual residence;
(ii) the Adjudicator erred in concluding that the only risks which would face the Claimant on return to Israel are those associated with a state of civil war;
(iii) the Adjudicator failed to give proper consideration to the expert evidence which was before him;
(iv) the figures quoted by the Adjudicator at paragraph 17 of his determination for the number of Palestinians killed between September 2000 and June 2003, and for the number of Palestinians resident in the Occupied Territories are incorrect.
With respect to the Adjudicator, there are aspects of his determination which give rise to legitimate concerns as to the correctness of his conclusion. In particular, in the first sentence at paragraph 16 of his determination, he has stated, 'I find that he [the Claimant] is a national of Palestine resident in Israel so is not stateless'. In light of the fact that Palestine is not a country or territory recognised under international law, and is therefore not capable of conferring nationality, and that by the Claimant's own account, he was resident prior to his departure in the Gaza Strip in the Occupied Territories, not in the State of Israel, the Adjudicator's conclusion that the Claimant is not stateless is questionable, to put it at its lowest.
In addition, it appears from the Adjudicator's comments set out in paragraph 16 of the determination that he has misunderstood the effect of the decision of the House of Lords in Secretary of State for the Home Department v Adan  Imm AR 338,  INLR 325.
In light of the concerns caused by these aspects of the Adjudicator's determination, I am persuaded that this is a fit case in which to grant permission to appeal generally."
"4. I deal firstly with the credibility of his account. I do not believe his evidence. I set out my reasons below:
(a) The appellant claims that Rashid was a high standing member in Fatah and that he was the one exerting pressure on him to join. It is his evidence that Rashid first approached him in January 2001 and then he approached him again in October of that year. On these two occasions he did not express a willingness to join. He says that Rashid approached him again in October and then in November 2001. On the latter occasion he accused him of being a traitor. There is no reason that readily suggests itself from the appellant's evidence as to why a relatively senior figure in Fatah, as Rashid was, should devote so much time for such a long period in trying to coax the appellant into joining Fatah. The objective evidence, in particular the US Department of State Report shows that the Intifada was a popular uprising amongst the youth. It does not therefore seem likely that the appellant would have been the object of such a sustained and patient effort at recruitment by senior persons in Fatah. He does make the suggestion in his interview that his matter was even brought to the attention of persons of higher seniority than Rashid. He says that Rashid told him this. On the evidence before me it is not clear what qualities or background the appellant had that would have caused Rashid to pursue the appellant with such single minded resolve.
(b) The appellant claims that at their last encounter Rashid seemed to accuse him of having informed the Israelis about a Fatah combatant. He said he was accused of being a traitor. He states that in this regard it was pointed out to him that he had been observed passing checkpoints without apparent difficulty in the company of an Israeli girl. On the face of it these were serious allegations being levelled at him. It would seem unlikely therefore that if Rashid believed him to be a traitor he would at that same encounter have still sought to persuade the appellant to join Fatah. It is possible of course that Rashid was merely seeking to intimidate the appellant and that in truth he had no basis to believe that he was a traitor. That however is not what the appellant claims. On the contrary the appellant claims that Rashid mentioned the appellant's liaison with the Israeli girl in support of his view that the appellant was a traitor. The objective evidence speaks of the Palestinians inflicting serious harm on those considered to be collaborators. The appellant's account therefore is not consistent with what is known about how Palestinians treat persons viewed as traitors to their cause.
(c) The objective context makes it unlikely that Rashid would have accused him of being a traitor and then sought to persuade him to join the Fatah. There is no reason that the appellant suggests why Rashid would have treated him with such leniency. I do not therefore believe that Rashid told him that he had intervened on more than one occasion to prevent his arrest.
(d) The appellant does not say that he decided to flee after the very serious threats made by Rashid. Having regard to what is known about treatment meted out to persons regarded as collaborators the appellant would if his account were true, have taken flight immediately after Rashid had left. He does not say that he did. What he does say is that he fled only after his father told him that he would rather kill him than allow the Fatah movement to do it.
(e) The appellant's evidence is that he had a committed relationship with the Israeli girl and that it seems it was strong enough to withstand the strained relations between Arabs and Jews. He states that he has not maintained contact with his girlfriend. I am satisfied that if his evidence were true he would have maintained contact with her because he has not offered a credible explanation why he is no longer in contact with her."
"I turn now to consider whether the practical difficulty related to the route through which he would be returned would expose him to persecution. The contention advanced by appellant's counsel is that the appellant would risk persecution if he were returned through Israel. My attention was drawn to the objective evidence on the severe restrictions of movement of Palestinians in the Occupied Territories. It is claimed that this appellant would be suspected of subversive activity and would be liable to interrogation were he to be returned. It is a matter of some regret that apart from the rather general observations in the US report there has not been placed before me any objective evidence that deals in specific terms with the risk that a person in appellant's position would face in seeking to return through Israel. My own research has not yielded much results.
I do not consider it necessary to decide this point because it is my understanding that as a matter of practice the Home Office would not seek to return appellant thought Israel [obviously an error for 'through'] if that posed serious difficulties. It would seem to me that can return [sic] through Jordan. In all the circumstances therefore I find that this appellant can safely be returned to the West Bank. I am satisfied too that his return would not expose him to conditions that would breach Article three."
"I have considered carefully what real risk is faced by the appellant by his return to the West Bank. The letter from the Respondent dated 10/12/03 makes it plain that the Israelis control all entry and exit points into Palestinian-controlled areas. Thus, it is argued, the appellant may be detained and ill-treated by Israeli security forces when subjecting him to interrogation upon his return. It is argued that he does not have a valid passport. In fact, the appellant has indicated that he does have a Palestinian passport but he left it at home with his family when he departed for the United Kingdom. The respondent habitually undertakes to ensure the return of failed asylum seekers in a safe manner. The Israeli Authorities would be well aware of the adverse economic impact upon the Palestinian population and the recent restrictions on their freedom to move and work and in any event there are many millions of Palestinian refugees throughout the Middle East. Economic migration is common throughout the region and elsewhere. I have found that this appellant is of no adverse interest to the Israeli Authorities and I do not consider there is a real risk of him suffering detention and ill-treatment at the hands of the Israeli Authorities upon his return. I conclude that the respondent's decision is not a breach of the law or the obligations of the United Kingdom under the European Convention."
(a) the numbers of returns which have been effected whether by the Respondent or other countries and the result of such returns so far as is known with particulars of any evidential sources for providing information as to post-return events;
(b) whether it is accepted (as per the evidence of Mr Joffe) that in addition to any documents from the Palestine Authority an Israeli transit visa permitting re-entry to the Occupied Territories is required and whether routinely available as part of the return travel documents;
(c) whether, and if so, how many applications for travel documentation are granted and how many rejected.
"The re-documentation procedures in respect of Palestinians are as follows. In the case of persons who previously held Palestinian Authority Travel Documents, issued for residents of Gaza and Jericho, the individual is requested to attend the Palestine General Delegates Office in London in person to apply for a document and for any relevant documents to be verified. The individual applicant must then send these documents to a family member in Palestine for production at the Ministry of the Interior, after which an Emergency Travel Document may be issued by the Palestinian Authority. The Emergency Travel Document will then be sent to the authority's office in the UK. The Palestine General Delegates Office in London is unable to accept applications other than those made by the individuals themselves."
Mr Pole's statement says that the Central Booking Unit within the Immigration Service is responsible for the procurement of tickets for public expense removals and for liaison with the Immigration and Nationality Departments' contracted travel managers. He confirms, after checking with those travel managers, that there are no direct or indirect air routes available into the Gaza or the West Bank territories.
"Return to the Territories is possible only if the person concerned has a valid travel document from the Palestinian authority and returns within three years if he or she left to cross the land boundary to Jordan or Egypt or returns within six months via Ben Gurion airport. Return can only be effected if the path of return exactly mirrors the path of departure, although a concession in 1996 allowed return by any border crossing (Ben Gurion airport, the Allenby Bridge or Rafah) if the person concerned had left from Ben Gurion airport. Even though the normal conditions governing return were supposed to have been suspended after the Oslo Accords [in 1991] they are still in force and the Israeli Authorities will not allow access to anybody who has any illicit passport or no travel documents. Of course, a Palestinian normally resident in the West Bank or the Gaza Strip but without valid travel documents could, in theory, obtain such documents – in this case a Palestinian passport – from a Palestinian representation abroad, provided he could demonstrate his place of normal residence was part of the Occupied Territories. However, he would still need to acquire an Israeli Transit Visa and would therefore always run the risk of detention by the Israeli border authorities, if they were suspicious of him in any way".
"Mr Massood, I suspect, will be unable to obtain access to the Occupied Territories and he probably does not have to [sic] appropriate documentation – evidence of residency and travel documents, together with the necessary visas or proof of departure. I do not know if he is here with dependants who would also return with him. If he does, then each of them must have evidence of residence separately, as well as travel documentation. Otherwise they will be treated as a case of family reunion. The Israeli Government has an absolute right over family reunion which it exercises very sparingly and only in connection with recognised categories of people, such as members of the Palestinian security force and administration. It can take up to eight months for an application to be processed and, in recent years, few such permits have been issued (United States Department of State, Israel and the Occupied Territories Human Rights Report 2002, Washington, March 2003)."
He concluded on this issue that because of his prolonged absence from the Occupied Territories, the Israel Authorities were likely to refuse the second Appellant transit rights to the Palestinian territories were he to be deported.