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Foreign Visitors To West Bank Must Disclose Romantic Relationships With Palestinians Under New Rules

Foreigners entering the West Bank must declare if they have formed a romantic relationship with a Palestinian man or woman, according to new rules for visas and visa extensions announced by Israel’s Defense Ministry. Under the regulations for visa extensions published by the Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) and due to take effect on Monday, foreigners must inform the Israeli authorities within 30 days of starting a relationship with a Palestinian living in the West Bank. If they get married, they will be required to leave after 27 months for a cooling-off period of at least half a year. If their relationship status is not formalized within 90 days, the Israeli-issued permit will expire and the foreign visitor will be required to leave immediately. The rules are included in a 99-page document titled “Procedure for entry and residence of foreigners in the Judea and Samaria area.” The measures will also place significant curbs on the ability of foreigners to study, volunteer, or work in the West Bank. The regulations do not apply to Jewish settlements. COGAT told AFP that the new regulations are a “two-year pilot” designed to make the entry process “more efficient and more suited to the dynamic conditions of the times.”