Foreigners are now going to be required to apply to Israeli authorities
in advance in order to travel to the West Bank. In addition to the visa
generally received at the border, all of which are controlled by the
Israelis, foreigners will need to go to offices inside Israeli
boundaries to apply to a visa to enter the West Bank. This is already
the case with the Gaza Strip, where very few foreigners are allowed by
the Israeli checkpoint guards to enter the Strip.
Head of the Department of Negotiations in the Palestine Liberation Organization, Dr. Sa'eb Erekat, reported Friday that President Abbas received a letter from the Israeli government relating to the issue.
Dr. Erekat said that in the following days more information will be available as this is the preliminary answer to a question President Abbas' posed to the Israeli Prime Minister during their recent meeting.
New stipulations include spouses, international institution employees, representatives of international organizations, businesspeople, investors, pilgrims, journalists, and volunteers. They will be eligible to receive a three-month visa, as is the current case. But now it will apparently be possible to obtain a 27 month renewal visa without having to leave.
However, foreigners will be required to obtain visas from embassies and consulates inside Israeli boundaries before entering the “Palestinian territories,” as the Israelis put it. As it stands, the first question at the border is whether one intends to “go to any Palestinian areas.” This is asked of Palestinians and foreigners alike and if answered in the affirmative, more often than not, leads to a refusal to grant a visa.
Groups that have been advocating for the 'Right to Enter' for foreigners, many of whom have been denied entry and deported in recent months, are withholding judgment on the new restrictions, as previous promises by Israelis to make things 'easier' for foreigners have in every case, in fact, made things more difficult.