Jerusalem, Jan 23 (EFE).- New Israeli regulations on foreigners entering the occupied West Bank could leave Palestinians more isolated and not capable of engaging with global civil society, Human Rights Watch (HRW) warned Monday.
The rights group explained the rules for entering and residing in the West Bank that went into effect in October 2022 and were amended in December are separate from those for Israel.
“Israeli authorities have long made it difficult for foreigners to teach, study, volunteer, work, or live in the West Bank,” HRW said.
“The new guidelines codify and tighten longstanding restrictions, threatening to make it even harder for Palestinians in the West Bank, who already face severe Israeli-imposed movement restrictions,” it added.
HRW has documented the difficulties foreign visitors have gone through entering or staying in the West Bank and their concerns about the new guidelines through interviewing 13 people between July and December last year, including an American psychologist teaching at a Palestinian university and a British mother of two trying to stay with her Palestinian husband.
Eric Goldstein, HRW’s deputy Middle East director, said that “by making it harder for people to spend time in the West Bank, Israel is taking yet another step toward turning the West Bank into another Gaza, where two million Palestinians have lived virtually sealed off from the outside world for over 15 years.”
“This policy is designed to weaken the social, cultural, and intellectual ties that Palestinians have tried to maintain with the outside world.”
In July 2022, HRW Israel and Palestine director Omar Shakir was denied entry into the West Bank, a move that was upheld by the Jerusalem District Court in November.
Israel has occupied the West Bank territory since 1967, imposing military and civil regulations affecting the entire local population.
Foreigners with normal Israeli tourist visas are allowed to visit the West Bank but cannot teach, study, volunteer, work, or live there.
“Citing ‘the risk’ of foreigners ‘becoming entrenched,’ the guidelines also foreclose all paths to remain long-term in the West Bank for all foreigners except Palestinians’ spouses,” HRW stressed.EFE