Israeli media is reporting that the Ministry of Interior has made the decision to stop issuing work permits for internationals working for non- governmental organizations in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.This leaves many workers in the position where their only option to remain with their organizations is to try to obtain tourist visas, and continue with their work, although this is illegal.
In furtherance to the illegality of this action, the tourist visa is valid for a maximum of 3 months, and often issued for much less time, meaning that any international working for an NGO would have to leave, and then re-enter Israel under the auspices of tourism, putting them at risk of denial of entry, or deportation if they manage to pass through immigration services and continue their work.
According to Israeli daily, Haaretz, those NGOs that are affected include Oxfam, Save the Children, Médecins Sans Frontières, Terre des Hommes, Handicap International and the Religious Society of Friends.
Speaking to IMEMC under conditions of anonymity, one worker potentially affected said, ‘We have been hearing rumours since the summer that this may be the case for some organizations. I went to apply some months ago to renew my visa, and usually you receive it on the spot.
‘I was told that now I would have to pay half the filing fee to open the file, which is approximately 150 shekels, and that the file would be sent to a committee to issue a decision. I haven’t heard anything since.’