No Security Coordination, No IDs for Palestinians
PA cut ties with Israel in May, leaving thousands of documentation requests in limbo
In yet another dilemma caused by the cessation of security and civil coordination with Israel, more than 25,000 Palestinian babies have been born in the West Bank since May, but their information has not been forwarded to the Israeli side, leaving these children without identification documents or passports.
Moreover, the issue prevents the issuance of new documents for those who reach adulthood in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
Ghassan al-Nimer, spokesman for the Palestinian Authority Interior Ministry, told The Media Line that the situation was a challenge, as the ministry was dealing with 25,000 to 26,000 requests that had been registered by the PA but not sent to the Israeli side.
“We register these newborns on their parents’ IDs, but they aren’t registered in the Israeli system as their requests weren’t transferred, and this has [already] caused an issue for three Palestinian women who [normally] reside along with their husbands abroad and who delivered their babies here,” Nimer said.
He explained that Israel had prevented these women from traveling overseas, as their babies did not show up in its Population Registry, and had asked them to return to the West Bank.
On May 20, PA President Mahmoud Abbas ordered the severance of all ties with the Israeli government, including those governed by security and civil-coordination agreements, in response to plans to annex parts of the West Bank announced by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s government.
Nimer said that international third parties, including human rights organizations, must intervene, as Palestinians have the right to travel and move freely, especially as they hold Palestinian nationality.
“Therefore, their children should automatically carry Palestinian nationality,” he said.
The issue involves the human and basic rights of the Palestinian people, Nimer added.
“In case the break in coordination continues, especially in terms of civil coordination, an international intervention is needed in order to give the Palestinians their right to movement,” he said. “There is no other solution.”
An international intervention is needed in order to give the Palestinians their right to movement
A spokesman for the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), a unit of the Israeli Defense Ministry, told The Media Line that “the Palestinian Population Registry is, as determined in the interim agreements, administered by the Palestinian Authority, which has charge of it. It is the Palestinian Authority’s prerogative to issue identity cards and passports to Palestinian residents and to record any changes of status for them in the Population Registry as well.”
The spokesman said that, according to the interim agreements, the PA must update the appropriate offices in Israel regarding any change to the Population Registry, and that this would “make certain services available to Palestinian residents.”
But because of the PA’s suspension of civil and security cooperation with Israel, no updates had been received regarding changes in the population registry, and thus “there has been no synchronization of the relevant [Israeli and Palestinians] information systems.”
When reached by The Media Line, the Israeli Interior Ministry spokesperson would not comment on the issue.
Elias Halabi, a resident of the West Bank city of Bethlehem and father of a 6-day-old boy, told The Media Line he had registered his son in the hospital, where he received a document with all the necessary details for submission to the PA Interior Ministry.
“I registered my son and received a birth certificate,” he explained. “However, they informed me there [at the ministry] that it wasn’t entered into the Israeli systems.”
Halabi says he is not planning to go abroad anytime soon in light of the global coronavirus pandemic.
“If I decide to travel,” he added, “I can’t take my son with me.”
If I decide to travel, I can’t take my son with me
The Media Line tried to speak with a woman who was barred from traveling with her newborn child, but she declined to comment for fear it might affect her daughter’s future documentation.
Gad Shimron, an Israeli political analyst, says PA is to blame as the Oslo Accords include a protocol, in place for 25 years, for Palestinian identification documents.
“The PA can’t wake up one day and decide that it doesn’t want to implement the agreements,” he told The Media Line. It cannot say it “decided to make a point … at the expense of newborn babies.”
Shimron explained that relations were at a very low point, where both sides have lost ground toward reaching a final peace agreement.
“I’m afraid now that the Palestinians have missed the train again, and it’s unfortunate that these babies will pay the price,” he said.
The documentation issue has not been the only negative consequence for Palestinians, as PA will no longer accept tax and tariff revenues that Israel collects on its behalf. As these revenues normally account for more than half of its budget, the decision has further complicated the already dire economic situation in the West Bank.