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The Israeli military body in charge of civilian affairs in the occupied West Bank has released a new policy imposing restrictions on foreigners who marry Palestinians or who come to the West Bank to work, volunteer, study or teach.
COGAT (Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories) says that those who decide to take the next step with their Palestinian sweetheart – with the “start of the relationship” defined as an engagement, marriage or moving in together – should notify the military within 30 days.
The rules are not applicable to the more than 130 Jewish settlements across the West Bank and do not apply to visitors.
Palestinians from abroad who want to visit the West Bank would be required to list the names and ID numbers of family members, as well as specify whether they themselves own property in the West Bank or stand to inherit any.
The number of visiting professors would be limited to 100 and the number of students would be limited to 150.
The policy says that a visiting lecturer would need to convince an Israeli military official that they “[contribute] significantly to academic learning, to the Area’s economy, or to advancing regional cooperation and peace.”
COGAT said the quotas apply to teachers and students who want to stay longer than one semester and are subject to be “re-evaluated from time to time.”
Nearly all foreigners would be forced to leave after 27 months and wait another nine months before applying for re-entry and would be limited to a total of five years in the territory, making long-term employment nearly impossible.
Volunteers approved by the Israeli military could come for a year, but would then have to wait another 12 months before applying for re-entry.
The rules do not apply to Israeli institutions.
In addition, most foreign spouses would only be able to enter the West Bank on visitor permits valid for three to six months. While a small number of them may qualify for spousal permits renewable for up to 27 months, they would have to leave for six months.
The military said the procedures formalize the application process and expand the “range of permitted purposes for entering the area,” adding that they are part of a two-year pilot program and that “certain parts” are already being re-assessed.
The U.S. State Department said it was studying the procedures and “engaging with Israeli authorities to understand their applications.”
A legal petition with objections to the policy that was filed by Israeli human rights group HaMoked led Israeli authorities to delay its implementation from May 20 until early July.
Israel previously reported that Palestinian militants fired rockets, wounding Gaza residents.
In April, Israel said it would close its border crossing to thousands of Gaza workers.
“The reopening of the crossing will be decided accordingly with a security assessment,” the Israeli military body said in a statement.
Palestine called the decision “collective punishment.”
Israel captured the West Bank in the 1967 Mideast war; Palestinians want it to form the main part of their future state.
Fox News’ Landon Mion, Brie Stimson and The Associated Press contributed to this report.