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Israel's controversial West Bank entry rules

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A picture shows a view of the Palestinian Kufr Aqab suburb of east Jerusalem near the West Bank city of Ramallah. (AFP)
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM — Israel has amended and delayed proposed new rules for entering the West Bank, which it has occupied since 1967.اضافة اعلان

The changes and the delay in implementing them follow a wave of condemnation from Brussels, Washington, and international human rights organizations.

The amended rules are now due to come into effect on October 20, according to the new draft.

What were new rules Israel wanted?

The regulations, originally supposed to come into effect on Monday, had stipulated that foreigners hoping to enter the West Bank would have to apply for a visa at least 45 days prior to arrival. Visitors would also have been forced to declare any property they own, as well as if they stand to inherit any.

In certain cases, they would have to have paid a deposit of up to 70,000 shekels (around $20,500).

Impact on higher education?

The proposed rules placed quotas on the numbers of university lecturers (100 per year) and foreign students (150 a year) attending Palestinian universities.

Romantic relationships?

The new rules demanded that those who entered into a relationship with a Palestinian declare this to the defense ministry within 30 days.

The original 97-page document also said foreign spouses of Palestinians would initially be granted three or six-month permits, with most then required to leave the West Bank for six months before obtaining a new permit.

What has changed?

Israeli occupation forces published a revised text on Sunday that go into effect as part of a "two-year trial".

The obligation to declare a romantic relationship within 30 days has been dropped, as have the quotas on the number of lecturers and foreign students in universities.

The mandatory spending of several months outside the West Bank between two visas for foreign spouses of Palestinians has also been dropped. The mention of ownership of land or inheritance no longer appears in the visa application.

Rules challenged in court

The proposed new rules were delayed after being challenged in Israel's supreme court by 19 plaintiffs.

One of the plaintiffs, Israeli rights group HaMoked, said it plans to continue its legal challenge, describing the revised rules as discriminatory.

"They have removed some of the most outrageous elements," said the executive director of HaMoked, Jessica Montell.

"But the basic problem remains: Israel will prevent thousands of families from living together, if one spouse is a foreign national, for blatantly political reasons of demographic engineering," she added.

Local, international reactions

Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh on Monday called the rules "racist", saying they targeted foreigners of Palestinian origin and "those who stand in solidarity with Palestine".

The US ambassador to Israel, Tom Nides, said he would continue to be "aggressively engaged" with Israel over the new rules, calling on the Israeli government to make "necessary adjustments".

Hanan Ashrawi, a former senior member of the PLO, tweeted that the regulations were "designed not only to control and restrict academic exchange and cultural life, they are also an intrusive form of demographic engineering manipulating marriages and family life".

In July, the EU's Education Commissioner Mariya Gabriel said: "While Israel greatly benefits from Erasmus+ (exchange program), the (European) Commission considers that it should facilitate and not hinder the access of students to Palestinian universities".

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