Israeli policy imposes new restrictions and tightens its grip on the West Bank

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Israel’s military body responsible for civil affairs in the occupied West Bank has issued a new policy imposing restrictions on foreigners marrying Palestinians or coming to the West Bank to work, volunteer, study or teach.

COGAT (Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories) says those who decide to take the next step with their Palestinian lover – with “beginning of the relationship” defined as an engagement, marriage or moving in together – must inform the army within 30 days.

The rules do not apply to the more than 130 Jewish settlements in the West Bank and do not apply to visitors.

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Palestinians from abroad wishing to visit the West Bank would be required to list the names and identity numbers of their family members, as well as whether they themselves own property in the West Bank or are likely to inherit it.

The number of visiting professors would be limited to 100 and the number of students would be limited to 150.

The policy states that a guest speaker should convince an Israeli military official that he “[contribute] significantly to academic learning, the economy of the region, or the promotion of regional cooperation and peace. »

Palestinian women walk past a section of the Israeli separation barrier on their way to pray at Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem on April 29, 2022.
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Palestinian women walk past a section of the Israeli separation barrier on their way to pray at Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem on April 29, 2022.
(AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

COGAT said the quotas apply to teachers and students who wish to stay for more than one semester and are subject to “reassessment from time to time.”

Almost all foreigners would be forced to leave after 27 months and wait another nine months before applying for reinstatement and would be limited to a total of five years in the territory, making long-term employment nearly impossible.

Volunteers approved by the Israeli army could come for a year, but then have to wait another 12 months before applying for reinstatement.

The rules do not apply to Israeli institutions.

In addition, most foreign spouses could only enter the West Bank with residence permits valid for three to six months. While a small number of them might be eligible for spousal permits renewable for up to 27 months, they would have to leave for six months.

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The military said the procedures formalize the application process and expand “the range of permitted purposes for entering the zone,” adding that they are part of a two-year pilot program and that “some portions” are already under review.

The US State Department said it was studying the procedures and “engaging with the Israeli authorities to understand their requests”.

A legal petition with objections to the policy that was filed by Israeli human rights group HaMoked led Israeli authorities to delay its implementation from May 20 to early July.

Israeli Border Police secure a checkpoint used by Palestinians to cross from the West Bank into Jerusalem, Friday, April 8, 2022.

Israeli Border Police secure a checkpoint used by Palestinians to cross from the West Bank into Jerusalem, Friday, April 8, 2022.
(AP Photo/Nasser Nasser)

The release comes after Palestinian assailants shot and killed a security guard in late April, and Palestinians and Israeli police clashed repeatedly at a prominent Jerusalem holy site.

Israel previously reported that Palestinian militants fired rockets, injuring Gaza residents.

In April, Israel said it would close its border crossing to thousands of Gaza workers.

“The reopening of the crossing will be decided accordingly with a security assessment,” the Israeli military body said in a statement.

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Palestine called the decision “collective punishment”.

Israel captured the West Bank in the 1967 Middle East War; The Palestinians want it to form the main part of their future state.

Fox News’ Landon Mion, Brie Stimson and Associated Press contributed to this report.

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