In response to Freedom of Information applications by Gisha, COGAT confirms only two applications were admitted under the “settlement procedure”
The Procedure for handling applications by Gaza Strip residents for settlement in the Judea and Samaria Area (the settlement procedure) determines under what circumstances Palestinian residents may move from the Gaza Strip to live in the West Bank. The procedure also manages requests for a change of status for Palestinians who are registered as Gaza residents, but have lived in the West Bank for an extended period of time. The procedure was initially published in 2009, and revised in 2013, after criticism from the Supreme Court.
We have contacted the Coordinator of Government Activities (COGAT) twice for information and figures about the implementation of the settlement procedure. The first response arrived on September 16, 2014. On December 2, 2015, we once again asked COGAT for information, this time about the implementation of the procedure since the time that had elapsed since the previous response. The answer (Hebrew) came on February 11, 2016.
Together, the two responses indicated that in the seven years since the procedure was first published, only four applications have been processed under it. Of these, only two applications for settlement were submitted under the procedure, and the other two were mistakenly processed under the procedure. The two applications that were correctly submitted under the procedure were for minors who have no relatives who can serve as guardians in the Gaza Strip, and in both, High Court petitions were filed by HaMoked: Center for the Defence of the Individual, and are still pending. Three of the applications were approved for advancing into the next stage of the procedure, only at the end of which, will the applicants’ addresses be changed.
These figures once again clarify that the process the procedure sets in place for submitting applications prevents any real possibility of actually filing such applications and having them reviewed and approved. The figures provided in response to our requests clearly demonstrate that despite the criticism voiced over the procedure, including by the Supreme Court, no real attempt was made to expand the procedure’s draconian criteria, or apply them more leniently. The settlement procedure remains a dead letter and its criteria are so narrow and stringent that there is no possibility of actually meeting them.