LONDON: Foreigners are being ordered by the Israeli Defense Ministry to notify the government if they fall in love with a Palestinian in West Bank territory under a series of new immigration rules.
If a foreigner marries a Palestinian, immigration restrictions mean they will have to leave after 27 months and cannot return for at least six months.
The new rules are expected to become law on Monday, with updated regulations published in a document released by the Israeli government.
The regulations include a request that foreigners notify Israeli authorities within 30 days of beginning a relationship with a Palestinian ID card holder.
There are also updated restrictions on Palestinian education, with new quotas on student visas and foreign lecturers capped at 150 and 100, respectively, but there are no similar limits for academics. Israelis.
The European Commission has expressed concern over restrictions on foreign students and scholars at Palestinian universities, which the BBC said were shared with the “highest levels” of the Israeli authorities.
Visas and visa extensions are also facing new restrictions as aid organizations and business groups warn that people are being barred from working or volunteering in the West Bank for long periods.
Speaking to the BBC, Jessica Montell, executive director of Israeli NGO HaMoked, said: “This is about demographic engineering of Palestinian society and isolation of Palestinian society from the outside world.”
HaMoked filed a lawsuit in the Israeli High Court against the regulations. His petition was joined by 19 people.
“They make it much more difficult for people to come and work in Palestinian institutions, to volunteer, to invest, to teach and to study,” Montell said.
The new 97-page “Cogat” order – referring to the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, a group within the Ministry of Defense – is titled “Procedure for entry and stay of foreigners in the Judea and Samaria region “.
The pamphlet, referencing biblical terms for the West Bank, was first published in February, but its introduction has been delayed
The BBC contacted Cogat, but did not respond to the UK broadcaster.
Elsewhere, Israeli authorities have defended the tougher restrictions on the grounds that they would enhance security.
Campaign group Right to Enter said the relationship limits “discriminatory, cruel and arbitrary practices by Israeli authorities” that would cause “tremendous humanitarian hardship” for foreign spouses, adding that it would lead to the forced separation of families in West Bank.
Foreign spouses of Palestinians in the West Bank have long faced a travel ban, which has left thousands living in limbo, unsure when their legal status will be confirmed.
Right to Enter said the new proposals will “formalize and worsen many of the existing restrictions”, adding that it will “force many families to move or stay abroad to maintain their family unit”.