The U.S. Consul General in Jerusalem Jake Walles expressed concern
about the continuous Israeli denial of entry to several internationals
including, Americans, and Palestinian Americans.
Representatives of the Campaign for the Right of Entry/Re-Entry met on Friday with Consular Walles and several other chief staff at the U.S. consulate in Jerusalem and Embassy in Tel Aviv to discuss this increasing act.
The Campaign delegates presented Ambassador Walles with an overview of the Israeli practice and its detrimental impact on family unification, economic and academic development, and the maintenance of a pluralistic social fabric needed to advance an environment for peace in the area.
In a press release issued by the campaign, which IMEMC received a copy of, Ambassador Walles acknowledged that there has been a noticeable change in the past six months of Israeli practices in issuing visas and expressed concern about the negative bearing of those actions. He stated that the Consulate has been actively involved in registering and trying to assist U.S. citizens that have reported being denied entry.
The campaign representatives explained that there are two general clusters of individuals affected by these new Israeli travel restrictions.
The first refers to the more than 120,000 persons awaiting family unification as per Israeli-defined rules and regulations but unable to gain permanent residency due to Israel’s refusal to process these applications. The majority of these applicants are married to Palestinian I.D. holders who are requesting residency for them. The Campaign representatives noted that their research shows that a significant number of these pending applications are for U.S. citizens and they requested that the U.S. intervene and demand Israel immediately process these applications in a transparent and accountable fashion, especially given that the occupied Palestinian territory falls under International and Humanitarian Law and not Israeli sovereignty.
The second group of people affected are foreign nationals, including Americans of Palestinian origin, destined to the West Bank and Gaza Strip for short-term visits for summer vacation, to marry, or attend a family event. There are others who are longer-term visitors and are actively involved in productive sectors of society, such as academia, healthcare, private sector and civil society organizations. Campaign representatives urged the U.S. to intervene to secure safe passage through Israel for all foreign nationals wanting to reach the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
The Campaign representatives expressed that in order for the Palestinians to be able to meet the obligations that the international community desires of them, it is imperative that the human resources required to do so, whether of Palestinian decent or otherwise, be permitted to have free and unfettered access to the occupied Palestinian territories.
The Campaign was briefed by Consul General Walles and his staff on coordination efforts between officials of the U.S. Consulate and European Union nations, many of whose citizens are also among those being refused entry, about Israel’s denial of visa practices.
The Consul General expressed his hope that the Campaign and Arab-American organizations in the U.S. would appeal to their communities to document the denied entry cases.
The U.S. Consulate has developed a form for U.S. citizens to register their treatment at Israeli border crossings and to document these cases of denial of entry. In addition, the Consulate and Embassy provided hotlines for those experiencing difficulties at Israeli ports of entry including Ben Gorion Airport and the Alleby Bridge, and urged that all instances of such Israeli denials of entry be immediately reported.
The State Department makes special reference in their Travel Warning and Consular Information Sheet on Israel, the West Bank and Gaza to the restrictions that Israel may put on Palestinian Americans in particular and Americans in general “who have expressed sympathy with the Palestinian cause…or intended to travel to the West Bank or the Gaza Strip”.