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Visitors in West Bank must reveal any Palestinian love interest to Israeli authority

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Foreigners who fall in love with a Palestinian in the occupied West Bank must inform Israeli authorities of their relationship, according to new rules.

The BBC reported on Saturday that the ruling was issued amid a “tightening of rules” on foreigners living in or wanting to visit the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

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Meanwhile, foreigners who marry Palestinians, will be required to leave the West Bank after 27 months for a “cooling-off period” of at least six months, BBC said, adding that these new rules will come into effect on Monday.

Citing a 97-page document, the BBC reported that the relationship with a Palestinian ID holder must be made known to the Israeli authorities within 30 days of starting the relationship.

More restrictions

Other new restrictions include a quota for 150 student visas and 100 foreign lecturers on Palestinian universities, however, there are no such limits on Israelis.

Additionally, the new rules set strict limitations on the duration of visas and visa extensions, in many cases preventing people from working or volunteering in the West Bank for more than a few months at a stretch.

This is expected to affect business travelers and aid organizations.

“This is about demographic engineering of Palestinian society and isolating Palestinian society from the outside world,” Jessica Montell, executive director of the Israeli non-governmental organization HaMoked, which has petitioned the Israeli High Court against the regulations, was quoted as saying by the BBC.

“They make it much more difficult for people to come and work in Palestinian institutions, volunteer, invest, teach and study,” Montell added.

Behind the order

The new rules were published in a document released by COGAT.

COGAT is the Israeli defense ministry body responsible for civil affairs in the Palestinian territories.

The new COGAT order is titled ‘Procedure for entry and residence of foreigners in the Judea and Samaria area’ - the historical name Israel uses for the West Bank.

It was first published in February, but its introduction has reportedly been delayed. The new rules do not apply to those visiting Israel, according to the BBC report.

Restrictions in travel and running a business are already in place for Palestinians in the West Bank.

For instance, while residents of Israeli settlements in the West Bank can travel abroad from Israel’s main international airport near Tel Aviv, the vast majority of Palestinians from the territory are banned from doing so.

Palestinians must instead make an overland crossing from the West Bank to Jordan, before boarding a flight in the country’s capital Amman.

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