image Photo: Flash90

Israel: PA to register undocumented Palestinians

4,000 Arab residents of the West Bank will be registered in Palestinian Authority (PA) Population Registry, announced Israel’s Coordinator for Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT).

By Erin Viner

According to a statement TV7 obtained by the COGAT Spokesperson’s Office, the decision was taken per “instructions from Defense Minister Benny Gantz for advancing civil and economic measures in Judea and Samaria.”

COGAT Head Major General Rassan Alian notified PA representatives of the approval for 1,200 requests from Palestinians living in the Judea and Samaria area for many years without official status, including spouses and children. In addition, 2,800 people born in the Gaza Strip who fled when the Islamist Hamas terror organization seized the enclave from Fatah during the bitter 2007 internecine warfare will also be permitted to register with the PA.

“All the approvals of requests are on a humanitarian basis,” said Israel’s COGAT liaison office to the Palestinians, underscoring that every application underwent thoroughly examination and background security checks by the relevant Israeli defense agencies.

Interim Israeli-Palestinian peace deals that established the PA obliged Jerusalem to greenlight annual residency permits in the West Bank and Gaza of some 4,000 new spouses of local residents under a ‘family reunification program.’ That process was largely suspended after Palestinians launched the bloody Second Intifada uprising in 2000; other than the granting of around 32,000 reunification permits 2008-2009 and specific humanitarian cases. The Israeli-Palestinian peace talks collapsed in 2014.

Israeli Defense Minister Gantz implemented the latest wave of registrations 7 weeks after holding talks with Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank city of Ramallah, in what was the highest-level meeting between the Palestinian President and an Israeli minister to be made public since the formation of Jerusalem’s new government last June.

The top Israeli defense chief stressed in a Twitter post that he approved the 4,000 residency registrations as a humanitarian gesture and “as part of my policy to strengthen the economy and improve the lives of Palestinians” in the West Bank.

Senior PA official Hussein Al Sheikh declared on Twitter that the 4,000 “obtained their right to citizenship” and would receive identification cards.

Formal standing in the Palestinian Population Registry enables the recipients to acquire identification cards, that will help facilitate passage through IDF checkpoints in the West Bank.

In related developments, the IDF blocked several sites and roads in Israeli communities near the Gaza security fence over concern of terror attacks emanating from the Strip.

The IDF Spokesperson’s Unit announced that barricades had been set up at “the entrance to the Black Arrow Monument, Givat HaPa’amon, Giv’at Nizmit, the Garden of the Fallen and the Lone Rider Hill.”

The decision was based on a general “situational assessment” as opposed to specific intelligence of an impending terror attack, said the Israeli military.

Meanwhile, COGAT Chief Maj. Gen. Alian announced the quota of Gazan merchants allowed to enter Israel each day through the Erez Crossing will be increased to a total of 10,000, with the addition of 3,000 permits.

The decision, which was made by Jerusalem’s political echelon following a security assessment on the matter, will be take effect tomorrow.

The only Gazans allowed into the country must already have been vaccinated against the coronavirus or have recovered from the disease.

“All civilian measures toward the Gaza Strip are conditional upon the continued preservation of the region’s security stability for the long term, while further expansion of these measures will be examined in accordance with a situational security assessment,” stressed a statement from the COGAT Spokesperson’s Office.