Lawmakers scrutinize Israeli rules restricting travel to the West Bank

Dozen Members The US Congress has asked senior Biden administration officials to consider a new Israeli policy that severely limits the ability of foreigners, including US citizens, to travel to the occupied West Bank.

The Government’s Coordination in the Territories, known as COGAT, the branch of the Israeli Defense Ministry tasked with dealing with civilian matters in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, issued a lengthy set of rules this spring to govern access to the West Bank. The rules formalize the invasive screening that has long been the norm for those traveling there, but also includes new restrictions aimed at limiting the ability of foreign passport holders of Palestinian origin to visit their families and homeland, as well as other foreigners. to enter the territory, including for work or study.

In one letter sent this week to the heads of state, education, and homeland security departments, Rep. Jamaal Bowman, DN.Y., and 11 other Democrats note that the new rules “severely limit the ability of American academics and students to teach and study at Palestinian universities in the Occupied Palestinian Territory” and emphasize that “similar restrictions do not apply to American academics.” . and students who wish to teach and study at Israeli universities, as well as Israeli academics and students who wish to teach and study in the United States.”

The new rules, whose implementation has been delayed until July pending an appeal in Israeli courts, limit the number of foreign scientists allowed into the territory to 100 and the number of students to 150. Israel will only issue visas to those involved in specific fields of study. and this will limit the amount of time they can spend there.

“These unilateral procedures infringe on the right of Palestinians to education and the academic freedom of American professors and students who wish to interact with their Palestinian counterparts,” the lawmakers wrote, adding that the policy “has no justifiable justification.”

In another letter, sent to Secretary of State Anthony Blinken earlier this month, Rep. Jennifer Waxton, of Virginia, wrote that the new rules “may have a significant impact on [her constituents’] the ability to travel, visit relatives or conduct business in parts of the occupied West Bank.”

Wexton pointed to requirements that Israeli authorities are now seeking to make permanent, first introduced during the Covid-19 pandemic, that would prevent foreigners from traveling to the West Bank without obtaining a permit 45 days in advance and without disclosing information about the land they own there. .

“It appears that Americans who wish to visit Israel or any of the settlements…

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