Palestinian document scheme risks leaving thousands stranded

Palestinian Authority to issue papers without Israeli validation, risking thousands stranded
2 min read
As part of Mahmoud Abbas' pledge to cut all ties with Israel, the PA will begin issuing personal documents for Palestinians without Israeli validation, which risks leaving thousands stranded
Some 85,000 Palestinians possess permits to work in Israel [Getty]
The Palestinian Authority said Friday it will start issuing personal documents for Palestinians without having the papers validated by Israel as in the past.

The move follows Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas's announcement last month of an end to all agreements with Israel over its plans to annex parts of the occupied West Bank.

"We are now registering our citizens in our own databases, without sending them to Israel as we did before, according to instructions not to work with Israel on this subject," Palestinian Authority interior ministry spokesman Ghassan Nimr told AFP.

Under the 1993 Oslo peace accords, the PA has issued identity cards, birth certificates and other documents to the approximately five million residents of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

But they were only considered valid after endorsement by Israel, which controls all movement in and out of the West Bank and from Gaza through Israeli territory.

"We are working on setting up a new framework based on coordination with the international community to allow us to move freely without the approval of Israel," said Nimr, without giving details.

The end of coordination with Israel on the issue has not yet had any impact on Palestinian travel due to closure of the borders of Israel and the Palestinian Territories due to coronavirus restrictions.

But when crossings are reopened thousands of Palestinians could find themselves stranded.

In-depth: How will the EU respond to Israel's West Bank annexation plans?

Israel controls all but one of the Palestinian territories' entry and exit points. Therefore such a move would mean Palestinians travelling in and out of Palestine - whether into Israel or abroad, both which require permits from the Israeli government - would likely be stuck.

Thousands of Palestinian students move between universities inside Israel, East Jerusalem and the West Bank, while long-running healthcare coordination means thousands of Palestinians receive specialist treatment, for cancer and kidney dialysis in particular, in Israeli or East Jerusalem hospitals.

Moreover, some 85,000 Palestinians possess Israeli work permits, the overwhelming majority of whom are from the West Bank. 

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