International Solidarity Movement Update

Published: Fri 1 Dec 2006 09:43 AM
International Solidarity Movement Update
Another 128 passports belonging to spouses and children of Palestinian ID-holders who had applied for visa extensions have just been returned marked 'last permit'. This is in addtion to the 100 visa extension rejections issued last week by the Israeli Ministry of Interior (MoI) office at Beit El. Most of these foreign passport holders have to leave in the next two weeks, with some having 'minus' time left, and all are required to leave via Israeli controlled entry/exit points before the end of the year.
Those who overstay their allotted time will be considered "illegal" and are subject to immediate deportation from the Israeli occupied Palestinian territories (oPt). In an effort to avoid being considered "illegal" and threatened with arrest by the Israelis, some families are opting to relocate abroad. The pattern of refusing visa renewals for family members is part of an overall Israeli effort that denies entry to foreign nationals seeking access to the oPt.
The impact of Israel's practice includes the forced separation of spouses, parents from their children, educators and students from their schools, health care, NGO and humanitarian workers from access to needy communities, and business owners from their investments. According to the Palestinian MoI, hundreds of applications for Israeli visa extensions following Israeli guidelines were submitted in October and are still pending. Israel is also refusing to process an estimated 120,000 family unification residency applications.
Every denial of entry and visa renewal refusal impacts an estimated 10 people, many of whom subsequently resort to moving to another country. "This is a silent ethnic cleansing," said Basil Ayish, a spokesperson from the Campaign for the Right of Entry/Re-Entry to the oPt.
Sixty-year old Anita Abdullah from Ramallah, A Swiss national married to a Palestinian ID-holder, applied to the Ministry of the Interior for an extension before her visa expired on November 1st. Her passport was returned on November 19 with a one month extension marked 'last permit'. Both Anita, a freelance researcher, and her husband have lived and worked in Ramallah for over 12 years. Their children and Anita's 92-year old mother all live abroad. If forced to leave Anita and her husband will have no means to support themselves and will become dependant on their children. If Anita stays illegally she will be denied re-entry when she does leave.

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