Israel has recently implemented a new set of regulations that aim to restrict the entry and stay of foreign nationals in the occupied West Bank, especially those who have ties to the Palestinian people or support their rights. The new rules, known as the 2022 Procedure, are part of Israel’s system of exclusion and oppression that violates international law and amounts to apartheid, according to human rights groups.
The 2022 Procedure, which came into force in December 2022, was issued by the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (Cogat), an Israeli military body that oversees the occupied Palestinian territories. The procedure requires foreign nationals who wish to enter or stay in the West Bank for more than three months to obtain a special permit from Cogat, which has the sole discretion to approve or deny their applications.
The procedure applies to foreign nationals who want to work, study, volunteer, teach, or live with their Palestinian spouses or relatives in the West Bank. It also applies to foreign nationals who already have valid visas or permits issued by Israel or the Palestinian Authority (PA), which are now deemed invalid by Cogat.
The procedure is vague, arbitrary and discriminatory, as it does not specify the criteria or conditions for granting or rejecting permits, nor does it provide any appeal mechanism for applicants. It also gives Cogat the power to revoke permits at any time without prior notice or justification.
The procedure is designed to further isolate and control the Palestinian population in the West Bank, which is already subjected to a brutal military occupation that denies them their basic rights and freedoms. By making it harder for foreign nationals to enter or stay in the West Bank, Israel is preventing them from witnessing, documenting, and challenging its violations of international law and human rights.
The procedure also aims to sever the ties between Palestinians in the West Bank and their diaspora community, as well as their supporters and allies around the world. By denying foreign nationals the right to live with their Palestinian families, Israel is creating a coercive environment that forces them to leave the West Bank or renounce their foreign citizenship. This amounts to forcible transfer, which is a war crime under international law.
The procedure is part of Israel’s wider policy of apartheid, which is defined as an institutionalized regime of systematic oppression and domination by one racial group over another. Israel enforces such a regime against the Palestinian people wherever it has control over their rights, including in Israel itself and in the occupied Palestinian territories.
Israel’s apartheid regime is characterized by massive land grabs, illegal settlements, unlawful killings, arbitrary arrests, torture, movement restrictions, segregation walls, checkpoints, and denial of nationality and citizenship to Palestinians. These practices violate various international conventions and treaties that prohibit racial discrimination, apartheid and crimes against humanity.
Israel’s apartheid regime must be challenged and dismantled by the international community, which has an obligation to uphold and enforce international law and human rights. The International Criminal Court (ICC) should consider the crime of apartheid in its current investigation into the situation in the occupied Palestinian territories and hold accountable those responsible for it. States should also exercise universal jurisdiction to prosecute perpetrators of apartheid crimes and impose sanctions on Israel until it ends its occupation and apartheid.