Q: Is it Israel’s sovereign right to arbitrarily deny entry of foreign passport holders wishing to visit, reside or work in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt)?
A: NO, occupied territory is not sovereign territory. Israel is authority over the oPt is subject to international humanitarian law (IHL).
Q: What can third States do in response?
A: Third states have a duty to ensure Israel’s respect for international humanitarian law (IHL) and to seek to obtain Israel’s compliance where the means to do so are readily available to them.
Third states have an obligation to:
1. Scrutinize Israel’s exercise of authority and to oppose arbitrary denials of entry and residency that harm Palestinian family life and welfare, including educational and social service institutions and economic development.
2. Defend the interests of their own nationals when they are subjected to arbitrary or discriminatory treatment by a friendly state and to protect them against violations of human rights.
3. Object when they are provided with written statements and clarifications of positions from Israeli authorities that embody, or envisage and signal Israel’s intent to take measures that are internationally unlawful. Israel’s signaling its refusal to issue work permits to employees of international humanitarian organizations and to replace them with tourist visas is an example of a wrongful measure.
4. Object to Israel’s policies of annexation, isolation and fragmentation of the oPt, especially when such policies are manifested in the form of stamps in foreign passports like the “Palestinian Authority Only” stamp.
5. Apply vigorous scrutiny to cases of denied entry and denied residency in the oPt with a view to promoting Israel’s adoption and transparent application of principles consistent with the internationally accepted rights and obligations of an occupying power.
Third states are urged to:
1. Set up clear mechanisms for citizens to report and appeal cases of denied entry
2. Set up clear mechanisms for liaising with Israeli authorities to ensure safe passage to the oPt for all citizens and ensure the prompt and proper resolution of cases where safe passage has been hindered
3. Insist on receiving a formal explanation of each decision taken by Israel to bar any of their citizens from the oPt.
4. Object to all arbitrary denials of entry and residency that harm Palestinian family life, educational, health and social service institutions and businesses and act to resolve all such cases of exclusion.
5. Promote Israel’s compliance with international humanitarian law with appropriate and effective tools of persuasion and dissuasion.
6. Take appropriate measures based on reciprocity to ensure that the correct treatment accorded to Israel nationals seeking to enter third countries is reciprocated by correct treatment of their nationals seeking to enter Israel or the oPt.
Documents of interest:
- EUP Parliamentary Questions on New Restrictive Policy on Entry & Stay in West Bank, 9 June 2022.
- Tlaib and Congressional Colleagues Query Israel’s Eligibility for the Visa Waiver Program, June 2022.
- Bowman & 11 Other US Representatives on COGAT Procedure, 27 May 2022.
- US Rep Wexton to US Sec of State on COGAT ‘Foreign Entry Rules for Occupied WB’, 19 May 2022.
- RTE: Briefing Note on New COGAT Procedures for West Bank Entry, April 2022.
- February 2018 RTE Call to Action by Third States
- February 2018 RTE Briefing to Diplomats Presentation
- November 2017 RTE Letter to ACS Chief Waldrop
- November 2017 RTE Letter to US Political Officer Olga B Romanov
- March 2013 RTE Letter to Diplomatic Missions
- August 2009 PA Only Visas – Key Issues for Third States
- December 2006 Letter to British Nationals Re Change of Policy
- September 2006 RTE Letter to US Consul General
- Memo to Diplomatic Missions on PA Only Visa (Aug 09)
- Letter from Irene Mathyssen regarding the case of Khaled Sabawi