The New Israeli Residence Order for the West Bank

Issam Nassar is co-founder of the "Institute for Jerusalem Studies" from Jerusalem (photo: private).

April 20, 2010
By Bernd Asbach
» Deutsche Version

What exactly does the order mean?

The general parameter of the policy is not new. Israel has been in reality expelling Palestinians and foreigners from the occupied territories at will since 1967. At times, the Israeli government targeted certain groups, like spouses of Palestinians who did not have the permission of the Israelis to live in the areas: such permissions were not usually granted and family reunification applications were generally not easy and would take years, if not decades to get. But this time, the order expands the policy to include new categories of residents and visitors. What it simply means is that the Israeli army can on the spot arrest activists and residents and deport or expel them without delay.

Who is affected by it and who is seen as a perpetrator?

The order this time targets Gazans who live in the West Bank; which is a violation of the Oslo agreements that state that the West Bank and the Gaza Strip are one territorial unit. It also targets Palestinians without valid Israeli permits, visas or residency status in the Occupied Territories. The number given by the media of the people who will now be considered illegally present in the West Bank is 60,000.

Does it also have an effect on foreigners?

Foreign residents and visitors, including those working in the West Bank or Gaza, Palestinians with foreign passports and activists who come to support the Palestinians will be affected.

Is the order to be seen in the framework of Israeli security?

I see no real security reason behind the order, but rather a state of paranoia and racism that views Palestinians and their society as illegitimate.

Which intention is behind the Israeli order?

The order clearly is another step in Israel's reversal of the Oslo peace agreements. It implies that Israel can now target people at will. It is, of course, a violation of International law as well. It gives Israel jurisdiction inside areas considered to be under Palestinian administration. It separates Gaza from the West Bank, Jerusalem from both of them and gives the army the right to enter at will in order to arrest and expel who they wish to get rid of. It is simply another Israeli law that aims at gradually furthering the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians.

The questions were asked by Bernd Asbach, head of the Middle East department of the Heinrich Böll Foundation Berlin.