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Colonial Cases

Palevitch, 1929


Re Palevitch

High Court, Palestine
Source: The Palestine Bulletin, 14 December 1928



Citizenship Case Before High Court.

   Mr. Jacob Palevitch, of Haifa, has lodged a complaint against the Chief Immigration Officer who refused to grant him a citizenship certificate in view of the fact that his wife was staying abroad having proceeded there for two years.

   The case was heard by the High Court yesterday.  Mr. Palevitch's counsel were advocates Bernard Joseph and K. Freidenberg, of Jerusalem, and A. Weinshall of Haifa.  The Court granted the rule nisi, and the chief Immigration Officer will have to state the reasons why a citizenship certificate should not be granted in the present case.


The Palestine Bulletin, 1 March 1929


(Full text)

   In the Supreme Court sitting as a High Court of Justice Before the Chief Justice, Mr. Justice Jarrallah and Mr. Justice Khaldi.

   In the application of Yacoub Palevitch, Petition, Vs. Immigration Officer, Respondent.

   Application for an order to issue to the Respondent to show cause why he should not be ordered to proceed with Petitioner's application for naturalisation.


    The Petitioner in this case has obtained Rule Nisi against the Chief Immigration Officer to appear and show cause why an Order should not issue directing him to proceed with Petitioner's application for naturalisation.

   The Petitioner applied for naturalisation the 10th January 1927.  On 3rd December 1927, according to Petitioner's application his wife left for Italy and is not expected to return to this country for two years.  On the 16th December 1927 the Petitioner received a letter from the Immigration Officer at Haifa a letter stating:

"With reference to your application dated 10.1.27, I have to inform you that as your wife was granted an Emergency Certificate for travel to Italy on 3.12.27, your application for naturalisation will not, therefore, be proceeded with until your wife's return to Palestine."

   By Article 23 of the Palestine Citizenship Order, 1925, the powers of the High Commissioner under that Order with certain exceptions may be exercised by a person acting under the authorities of the High Commissioner.  On the 14th September, 1925, the High Commissioner authorised the Controller of Permits Section to exercise any of the powers conferred upon the High Commissioner by the said Order with certain exceptions.  These exceptions do not include Art. 7 (3) which runs:-

"The grant of a certificate of naturalisation shall be in the absolute discretion of the High Commissioner, who may, with or without assigning any reason, give or withhold the certificate as he thinks most conducive to the public good and no appeal shall be from his decision."

  We are satisfied that the discretion is now vested in the Chief Immigration Officer who legally stands in the shoes of the Controller of Permits section and we hold that an application of this sort, when the Controller of permits has assigned a reason for his refusal of a certificate, concerning the validity of the exercise of his discretion, is not an appeal in the sense of Art. 7 (3) and can be properly heard by the High Court.  The arguments addressed to us by Mr. Joseph on the interpretation of Art. 7 of the Mandate which were in effect that the occurrence therein of the words "so as to facilitate the acquisition of Palestinian citizenship by Jews" means that every facility must be given to all Jews to acquire Palestinian citizenship, appears to me to lose sight of the meaning of the whole Article.  The Article is concerned with the enactment of a nationality law in which, so says this Article of the Mandate, there are to be included provisions framed so as to facilitate the acquisition of Palestine citizenship by Jews who take up their permanent residence in Palestine.  This has been done by the passing of the Palestine Citizenship Order, 1925, in which there are embodied Art. 7 (1) a number of qualifications which are required before the High Commissioner may grant a certificate of naturalisation.  These qualifications comprise:-

  1. A term of 2 years' residence in Palestine.
  2. Good character.
  3. Knowledge of one of the three official languages.
  4. Intention to reside in Palestine.

   Those are the necessary qualifications, and only one of them, namely, the previous residence of 2 years can be waived by the High Commissioner in any special case under Section 7 (5), while under Section 7 (3) it is in his absolute discretion to give or withhold the certificate, as he thinks most conducive to the public good.

   It will be noticed therefore that under Art. 7 of the Mandate the intention to take up permanent residence in Palestine is a sine qua non in the case of those Jews whose acquisition of Palestinian citizenship is to be facilitated, and Art. 7 (1) (C) of the Palestine Citizenship Order, 1925, reasserts the intention to reside in Palestine as a condition to the grant of a certificate.

   Now, by Art. 12 (1) of the Palestine Citizenship Order the wife of a Palestinian citizen shall be deemed to be a Palestinian citizen.  The wife of the Petitioner in this case proceeded to Italy shortly before the refusal of the Petitioner's application and her return to Palestine is a condition which the Chief Immigration Officer requires before the grant to her husband of the certificate which will have the effect of conferring upon her Palestine citizenship.  I do not think it can be said that the exercise of this discretion has been arbitrary, vague, fanciful or capricious.

   In my opinion the refusal has been for substantive reasons and on judicial grounds, and for this reason I hold that the Order should be discharged with L.P. 2 costs.

Delivered this 28th day of February, 1929.

(Sgd.) Chief Justice.


The Palestine Bulletin, 8 March 1929


JERUSALEM. (J.T.A.) - An immigrant whose wife resides abroad cannot obtain naturalization in Palestine under the present laws of the country, according to a ruling by the High Court.

   The ruling was given in the case of Mr. Palevitch, a Jewish immigrant of Haifa, who sought action by the court to compel the government of Palestine to grant him citizenship.  The authorities had declined on the ground that Mr. Palevitch's wife has been a resident abroad for over two years and if he is naturalized, she automatically becomes a Palestine citizen.  This is against the present regulations.

   The suit which is the first of its kind in Palestine courts has been conducted with the aid of counsel under the auspices of Sechutenu, a recently organized society to the protection of Jewish rights in Palestine.


The Palestine Bulletin, 10 March 1929


Haifa. - Mr. Palevitch (who recently summonsed the Chief Immigration Officer for refusing to grant him a certificate of citizenship and lost the case) has received a letter from the Immigration Department requesting him to inform the Department when his wife intends to return from abroad.  Mr. Palevitch in his reply protests against in any way connecting the two questions, and insists upon citizenship being granted him without regard to the date of his wife's return to Palestine.  He declares that if his legal demand is not fulfilled, he will lodge an appeal with the Pricy Council.

   Dr. Edmund Reich, who recently applied for citizenship was granted the certificate only after he made a declaration that his wife would return from her trip abroad within three months.

Published by Centre for Comparative Law, History and Governance at Macquarie Law School