West Bank couples must ‘formalize’ and report their status to the IDF
Under new guidelines taking effect Monday, foreigners will be required to notify the Israeli Defense Ministry of their close romantic relationship with a West Bank resident – including plans for cohabitation, fiancée or marriage – to receive or extend an entry permit. The restrictions do not apply to those visiting Israeli settlements.
The new set of rules was originally drafted by the Defense Ministry’s agency for Palestinian civil affairs, COGAT, in February, but its implementation has faced several delays due to legal challenges. The 97-page long document stipulates the procedure for entry and stay of foreign nationals in the Palestinian territories controlled by Israel.
A foreigner who is already married or “formed a couple” with a Palestinian will no longer be able to obtain a visa upon arrival in Israel and must apply for an entry permit at least 45 days in advance, reports The Times of Israel.
“If the relationship begins after the foreigner arrives in the area, the authorized COGAT official must be notified in writing…within 30 days of the start of the relationship,” the state of the rules. The “start date” of the relationship is defined as the day of the engagement ceremony, the wedding or the start of the cohabitation – “whichever comes first.”
The couple must also “formalize” their status with the Palestinian Authority, de jure in charge of the West Bank, and failure to do so within 90 days will result in “immediate” expulsion. But even if the relationship status is formalized, the Israeli permit cannot be extended for more than 27 months, after which a foreigner will have to leave the country for at least 6 months.
COGAT officials said this “two-year pilot” program, which does not apply to those visiting Israeli settlements in the West Bank, aims to make the entry process “more efficient and more adapted to the dynamic conditions of the time”, according to AFP.