Days of Palestine

Thursday, June 1

Israeli Occupation Retreats on Requirement for West Bank Visitors to Declare Love Interest

M.Y | DOP -

The Israeli occupation has amended a draft of controversial military rules which would have restricted foreigners from visiting their Palestinian partners in the occupied West Bank, following widespread criticism.

COGAT, an Israeli military body within the Ministry of Defence which runs the West Bank’s civilian and security affairs, has modified some restrictions, including the removal of the requirement placed on foreigners to tell Israeli occupation authorities if they have fallen in love with a Palestinian or started a relationship within 30 days of arrival.

However, other rules remain intact, which critics say aim to isolate the Palestinian population. The new document will take effect on 20 October, subject to renewal after two years.

Under these regulations, a foreigner who marries a Palestinian ID holder would be required to leave the country after 27 months for at least half a year. Foreign spouses visiting the West Bank would be limited to three- or six-month permits.

The rules are part of a wider crackdown on foreigners and diaspora Palestinians wanting to live, visit, work or study in the West Bank.

The Israeli military document restricted visitors to Palestinian universities, placing a cap of 150 student visas and 100 foreign lecturers. These rules include universities in Area A of the West Bank, a fraction of territory under the Oslo Accords which is supposed to be under complete Palestinian control.

The Israeli occupation places no such limits on how many visiting students and foreign lecturers can attend Israeli institutions. The measures will be a major blow to student exchange programmes operated by the European Union, such as the Erasmus+ programme.

The US ambassador to the Israeli occupation, Tom Nides, tweeted on Sunday: “I continue to have concerns with the published protocols, particularly regarding COGAT’s role in determining whether individuals invited by Palestinian academic institutions are qualified to enter the West Bank, and the potential negative impact on family unity.”

The Israeli non-governmental organisation, HaMoked, submitted a petition to the Supreme Court to cancel the regulations, which do not apply to those visiting Jewish-only settlements in the occupied West Bank.

The PLO, has said that the rules bring in “apartheid regulations that impose a reality of one state and two different systems”.