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Following a Petition, a Policy was Published regarding the Entry of Foreigners into the West Bank

Until March 2020, the entry of foreigners into the West Bank for visits was regulated under two directives of the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT). Under these directives, foreigners arriving from countries exempt from entry visas into Israel were allowed enter the West Bank by way of entry into Israeli through its airports. Foreigners arriving from countries that were not exempt from entry visas were required to obtain in advance a special permit for their entry into the West Bank.

These procedures were essentially suspended upon the outbreak of the Covid-19 crisis. Starting March 2020, Israel's international airports were closed to foreigners, as also the Allenby crossing, which is serves as main the land border between Jordan and Israel for Palestinians and foreigners seeking to enter the West Bank.

Whereas the Ministry of Interior published a temporary directive for the entry of foreigners into Israel during the Covid-19 outbreak, COGAT did not publish any new directives for the entry of foreigners into the West Bank. Hence, for over a year, COGAT essentially operated without any regulations on this matter. The only wording appearing on its website stated that foreign requests to enter the West Bank should be sent to a specific email address. Beyond this statement, COGAT did not publish any information, including the forms that should be filled out or the documents that should be submitted along with the request. It also remained unclear under what the criteria these applications were to be approved or rejected, and under what time frame COGAT intended to review the requests.

After a client approached our office, adv. Michal Luft contacted COGAT and asked that this matter be addressed as a matter of general policy. Despite this, her appeals remained unanswered. It was only after Attorney Michal Luft submitted an administrative petition to the District Court in Jerusalem, on September 14, 2021, that the Israel Defense Forces published a systematic directive regarding the entry of foreigners into the West Bank during the Covid crisis. The directive includes the criteria for reviewing applications, the time frame for processing them as well as contact details of the relevant subunit within COGAT that handles these cases. Through such action, adv. Michal Luft greatly improved the transparency of COGAT's operations, largely for the benefit of the entire population that comes into contact with this administrative unit. Last but not least, following the petition, COGAT also approved the specific request of the client that adv. Michal Luft was assisting.

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