PHROC: International Community Must Take Prompt and Concrete Measures to Halt Israel’s New Procedure for Entry and Residence of Foreigners in the West Bank
The Israeli occupying authorities have imposed further restrictions on the entry of foreign nationals and Palestinians who hold foreign passports and wish to work, volunteer, join their Palestinian family members or act in solidarity with the Palestinian people in the oPt. The constraints of the new procedure, which was published on 4 September 2022 and will enter into force on 20 October 2022, also apply to foreign nationals whose work requires that they stay for any length of time in the West Bank (excluding occupied Jerusalem).
These Israeli measures are in breach of international humanitarian law and Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Entry restrictions encroach on Palestinians’ freedom of movement, receiving humanitarian and development assistance, and hosting medical practitioners and other experts. Furthermore, these measures impinge on the sovereign rights of the Palestinian people, including the right to host experts, artists, athletes, students, tourists, and volunteers.
Composed of 90 pages, the new Israeli directives oblige those wishing to enter the West Bank (excluding occupied Jerusalem) only to do so exclusively through King Hussein (Allenby) Bridge. For those seeking to work, volunteer, or study in the oPt, regardless of their nationalities, visitors must apply for an entry visa 45, 60, or even up to 153 days before arrival as well as provide an extensive questionnaire on their CV, and any familial or spousal connections in the West Bank. Furthermore, the Israeli occupying authorities reserve themselves the right to unilaterally determine the expertise that the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) needs
The Israeli decision also involves clear discrimination, obliging foreign nationals to declare any family relations they may have in the oPt, often used to detect and deny entry to foreign national Palestinians. Foreign nationals must also disclose intrinsically private matters, such as reporting any emotional relationships with Palestinians (This scandalous condition was removed later under international pressure. However, the newly-adjusted procedures still provide that any visa renewal of someone on a work visa or other special purpose visa must be accompanied by information about being in a couple with a Palestinian registered in the population registry in the West Bank if that is the case.) This throws further suspicion on the purposes of this measure. It has to do with the racial engineering of the oPt population within the framework of its apartheid regime, which constitutes a crime against humanity. To ensure that these conditions are not breached, the new Israeli directives reserve the right to impose exorbitant prepaid sureties of up to US$ 20,000 on Palestinians with foreign nationalities. The Israeli directives are also applicable to staff members of and volunteers with United Nations agencies and international organizations, mostly European, which provide humanitarian and development assistance. Thus, the Israeli occupying authorities seek to prevent the flow of needed humanitarian and development aid to cope with the dire living conditions created by Israel’s discriminatory actions and failure to comply with its obligation as the occupying Power.
Critically, the Israeli decision coincides with unprecedented escalation throughout the oPt, including forced population displacement and transfer on both sides of the Green Line. Israel targets Palestinian infrastructure, including donor-funded projects. Destruction is not limited to land levelling, home demolitions, and uprooting of trees, as it also extends to undermine Palestinian society’s capabilities, resilience, survival, and civil society organizations. Moreover, Israeli restrictions have not spared the Palestinian private sector corporations, which do need foreign experts.
We call on members of the international community, particularly European Union Member States, to take meaningful and effective measures to halt these increasing restrictions, require reciprocal treatment, and rise before statements and denouncements. We further call on the Permanent United Nations Fact Finding Mission, established by the United Nations Human Rights Council in May 2021, to investigate this measure as a grave violation that falls within the category of racial discrimination.
Palestinian Human Rights Organizations Council comprising:
Addameer Prisoners’ Support and Human Rights Association
Aldameer Association for Human Rights
Acting General Director
Al Mezan Center for Human Rights
The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights
Defence for Children International
Ramallah Center for Human Rights Studies
Hurryyat – Centre for Defense of Liberties and Civil Rights
Jerusalem Center for Legal Aid and Human Rights
Independent Commission for Human Rights (Ombudsman Office) – Observer
Muatin Institute for Democracy and Human Rights – Observer