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Israel is planning to implement a policy addressing the entry and the residence of foreigners in the West Bank, a move that has raised concerns that the new rules will add further restrictions on movement in the occupied territory, Al Jazeera reported Wednesday.
The “Procedure for Entry and Residence for Foreigners in Judea and Samaria Area” is a new ordinance that will replace the current one that regulates entry and movement in the West Bank – which Israel refers to as “Judea and Samaria.”
The 97-page document imposes more expansive entry regulations, which observers say further complicate restrictions for foreigners wishing to visit, do business or volunteer in the West Bank.
It also adds more rules for Palestinians holding foreign passports visiting the area: These include collecting personal information and national ID numbers of “first-degree” relatives, or other non-relatives with whom they may stay or visit. Foreign-passport holders must also mention whether they own property or stand to inherit any in the West Bank – although no reasons are given as to why this information is required.
Israeli authorities said the new rules will “define the levels of authority and the manner of processing from foreigners” entering the West Bank. They added that the travel restrictions are necessary for security reasons.
Digital rights advocates, however, warned that the increasing demands for personal information by Israel are “a surveillance exercise” that aims to “to map out the social circles and property of Palestinians who live abroad with foreign passports.”
The new policy will also impose quotas and restrictions on foreign academics and students attending Palestinian educational institutions in the territory. One prestigious Palestinian university denounced the new procedures as “a violation of international law.”