FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
by the campaign for the Right of Entry
Despite assurances relayed by American and European diplomats, foreign passport holders trying to join their families in the Israeli occupied Palestinian territory (oPt), including Bethlehem, for the holidays are being denied entry and expelled by Israel.
On Friday the 15th edition of the English newspaper, Palestine Times, reported that a senior American diplomat announced that Israel had annulled a previous decision banning entry to foreign passport holders who have family residing in the Palestinian areas and was resuming its earlier practice of issuing three month renewable visas that would allow them to visit and live together with their families. Attempts to understand from US officials more details surrounding this announcement have been unsuccessful, to date.
In stark contrast to that announcement, at least three foreign nationals attempting to join their families in the Israeli occupied Palestinian territory were expelled last week. Kamal, an eighteen-year old US college student who had come to visit his grandfather and family in Ramallah over the holidays was denied entry at Ben Gurion airport on Saturday December 16th. Another Palestinian American from Cleveland, Ohio, Linda Ali Mahmmud, who is deaf and dumb like her brother Shukri, had traveled in the hopes of spending the holidays with her cancer stricken aunt but was denied entry at Ben Gurion airport on Thursday December 14th, allegedly because Shukri had overstayed his permit. Shukri had requested a routine permit renewal in October, however, the Israeli Ministry of Interior liaison at the Israeli Civil Administration suddenly stopped processing renewals for foreigners married to Palestinian ID-holders and refuses to accept Shukri’s application.
Abdullah, a German national, who works for the International Peace & Cooperation Center in Jerusalem, had hopes of reuniting with his wife, who carries a Palestinian ID and their newborn child following statements made last week by European diplomats regarding Israel’s policy change. He was denied entry for the fourth time at the Allenby Bridge on Wednesday the 20th of December.
“Arbitrary denials of entry and expulsions have not stopped. No transparent rules or mechanisms are in place so far. Palestinian families, vital service providers and businesses remain vulnerable to arbitrary denial of entry and residency. This is especially hard to accept at a time of major Christian and Muslim traditional festivities when families want to be together more then ever,” said Anita Abdullah speaking for the Campaign for the Right of Entry to the oPt .
The U.S. government estimates that there are about 35,000 Palestinian Americans living in the West Bank at any one time, and an additional 10,000 Palestinians with other foreign passports. All these people and their families remain separated or at risk, and Palestinian educational and social service institutions, humanitarian agencies and businesses remain vulnerable to the loss of critical personnel, until applications for entry and residency in the oPt are decided in accordance with a clear, transparent and internationally lawful policy.
Contact: Basil Ayish Coordinator, Media Committee
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