Saturday, December 30, 2006

[ePalestine] Longer stays in the Palestinian territories possible, but two Israeli visas required 

Longer stays in the Palestinian territories possible, but two Israeli visas required  

PNN, (Ramallah) Rashid Hilal Friday, 29 December 2006  

Foreigners going into the West Bank are going to need another visa. In addition to the visa generally received at the border, all of which are controlled by the Israelis, foreigners will need to go to offices inside Israeli boundaries to apply for a visa to enter the West Bank. This is already the case with the Gaza Strip.  

Head of the Department of Negotiations in the Palestine Liberation Organization, Dr. Sa'eb Erekat, reported Friday that President Abbas received a letter from the Israeli government relating to the issue.  

New stipulations include spouses, international institution employees, representatives of international organizations, businesspeople, investors, pilgrims, journalists, and volunteers. They will be eligible to receive a three- month visa, as is the current case. But now it will be possible to obtain a 27 month renewal visa without having to leave.  

However, foreigners will be required to obtain visas from embassies and consulates inside Israeli boundaries before entering the “Palestinian territories,” as the Israelis put it. As it stands, the first question at the border is whether one intends to “go to any Palestinian areas.” This is asked of Palestinians and foreigners alike and if answered in the affirmative, more often than not, leads to a refusal to grant a visa. But for Palestinians holding foreign passports and residing in the West Bank, this could make their lives much easier.  

Dr. Erekat said that in the following days more information will be available as this is the preliminary answer to a question President Abbas' posed to the Israeli Prime Minister during their recent meeting.  


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