Newsletter September Newsletter

Israel’s Restrictions on Foreigners Visiting the West Bank

The Israeli Ministry of Defence announced a new procedure, effective from July, comprising a 97-page document to replace the previous four-page document. The procedure governs all entry by foreigners to the West Bank (excluding ‘mixed visits’ where visitors travel to both the West Bank and Israel) and sets criteria on the entry and stay of foreign-passport holders seeking to work, volunteer or study in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT). Most of the visas are single entry only, preventing a person from leaving the West Bank and returning during the period of the visa. Visa extensions are highly restricted; in most cases a person must exit the OPT, in some cases remaining abroad for a year, before they can apply for a new visa. The procedure also sets very high security guarantees for entry into the OPT, up to NIS 70,000 (approx. US$20,000). Entire categories of visits are excluded: e.g. there is no provision for the entry of foreign journalists working for Palestinian media outlets, nor for foreign teachers in elementary or high schools. 

This new procedure does not apply to foreigners who wish to travel to Israeli settlements in the West Bank. For example, foreign lecturers and students at Ariel University will continue to be governed by the much more lenient regulations set by Israel’s Ministry of Interior. As well as undermining the academic freedom of Palestinian Universities, this new procedure also infringes Palestinians’ right to family life by limiting the stays of foreign spouses. As the occupying power, the Israeli military can act in the West Bank to ensure its own security and so can deny a specific individual entry to the West Bank. However, there can be no legitimate security reason for these restrictions on the entry of foreigners to the West Bank. You can read more at