On Tuesday, Israel announced that it had legalized the status of about 4,000 Palestinians officially. These people had been undocumented in the West Bank and a decade-long freeze had been ongoing during which they had not authorized any such requests. This move is part of the ongoing effort of the government, which is being led by Benny Gantz, for strengthening the Palestinian Authority. In a statement, Hussein al-Sheikh, the Senior PA official said that they would release the names of the approved individuals later on Tuesday. The ministry liaison from Israel to the Palestinian, who is officially referred to as the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, stated that identity cards would be issued to another 1,200 Palestinians.
A change of address would also be permitted for another 2,800 Palestinians who are registered as Gazans, allowing them to move to the West Bank. These Palestinians are currently living in areas of the West Bank were self-rule has been limited by the Palestinian Authority and their identity cards would have the PA’s winged eagle emblazoned upon them. Valid identity cards cannot be issued by Ramallah on its own without getting Israeli approval, due to which many Palestinians have been unable to get proper documentation.
A number of them have been living in the area without official recognition for decades, which means they are unable to move freely and have to live under the constant risk of deportation. Rights group and Palestinian officials have estimated that there are tens of thousands of Palestinians who are still undocumented in the West Bank. The announcement by COGAT also received criticism on Tuesday, as some said that it wasn’t enough. Yotam Ben-Hillel, the Israeli attorney who has been representing undocumented Palestinians, said that 5,000 approvals had to be made.
However, the number of approvals is close to 1,200 and there was no mention of the rest of the application and not to mention the other tens of thousands of people without legal status in the West Bank. On the right, the decision was slammed by Bezalel Smotrich, who is a hardline Israeli Parliamentarian, and said that this approval was ‘post-Zionist’. He said that the government was dangerous and irresponsible for the future of Israel. COGAT announced that identity cards would be issued to 1,200 Palestinians. Some of them were born in the West Bank, but hadn’t registered before the age of 16, while others had lost their residency status because they moved abroad before the Oslo records were signed.
The other 2,800 people are Palestinians who had moved from the Gaza Strip to the West Bank before the takeover of the Hamas terror group back in 2007. The liaison said that these requests had been approved on humanitarian basis and they will examine any further requests thoroughly and get security approval. These cases pertain to Palestinians who have been living in Samaria and Judea for years. These are the biblical term for the West Bank. Different restrictions are applicable on Palestinians by Israeli authorities, depending on whether they live in the West Bank or Gaza.