Israel is formalizing the separation between Gaza and the West Bank

Actions Speak Louder than Words:

Even As Prime Minister Netanyahu talks of a Palestinian state, Israel is formalizing the separation between Gaza and the West Bank

· New Israeli procedure bars Gaza Palestinians from moving to the West Bank and erects a virtually insurmountable barrier between the two areas

· Damages prospects for a two-state solution

· Israel's "humanitarian" standard: An orphan living in Gaza will not be permitted to unite with his remaining parent in the West Bank

· According to the procedure: easier for a foreign national living in the West Bank to obtain resident status than for a Palestinian from Gaza to move there

· The procedure is an additional measure in a deliberate Israeli policy to deepen the separation between the West Bank and Gaza

Tue., June 16, 2009 – An official procedure that has come to light following HaMoked's petitions to the Supreme Court reveals a far-reaching Israeli policy intended to deepen and formalize the separation between the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Under the new procedure, Israel sets extremely stringent conditions for change of residence from the Gaza Strip to the West Bank, erecting a new and virtually insurmountable barrier between the two areas.

The procedure takes Israel's policy of separation between Gaza and the West Bank to a new level, undermining the prospect of a viable Palestinian state and exacting a high price from the Palestinian population of the Occupied Territory.

Even as Prime Minister Netanyahu declares his acceptance of Palestinian statehood, andthe international community, led by the United States, is working to achieve a two-state solution, Israel continues to act systematically to further isolate the Gaza Strip and increase the area's geographic and political separation from the West Bank.

The new procedure contradicts a series of Israeli undertakings to negotiate the establishment of an independent, viable Palestinian state, including an explicit commitment in the Oslo Accords to preserve the status of the West Bank and Gaza Strip as "a single territorial unit".

The procedure demands a 7-year "naturalization" process for Palestinians wishing to move from Gaza to the West Bank despite the fact that according to the Oslo Accords Palestinians may freely choose their place of residence in the Palestinian territory.

Stating that family ties in themselves do not constitute humanitarian grounds for relocation to the West Bank, the procedure renders the term "humanitarian" meaningless.

The procedure's "humanitarian criteria" mean that an orphan from Gaza who has lost his mother will be barred from joining his father who lives in the West Bank if there are any relatives in Gaza capable of caring for the child.

Nissrin Iseed, left two children in the West Bank when she was forcibly removed to Gaza two years ago because she is registered as a resident there. "When I was removed to Gaza my son was three years old. In two months, he will turn five. All these years, he has grown up with the voice of a mother who lives far away. He does not know me".

HaMoked and Gisha call on Israel to cancel the procedure and allow Palestinians to move from the Gaza Strip to the West Bank, and change their registered address accordingly. We also call on the international community to take action to have Israel revoke this procedure, which violates the basic rights of Palestinians in the Occupied Territory, severely damages the ties between Gaza and the West Bank and undermines the possibility of establishing a viable Palestinian state.

To read a translation of the procedure, click here.