Military's responses to the inquiries of HaMoked and Gisha prove: the procedure for handling applications by Gaza Strip residents for relocation in the West Bank remained impossible also after the amendments which were made therein המוקד להגנת הפרט عر HE wheel chair icon
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28.10.2014
Military's responses to the inquiries of HaMoked and Gisha prove: the procedure for handling applications by Gaza Strip residents for relocation in the West Bank remained impossible also after the amendments which were made therein
Military's responses to the inquiries of HaMoked and Gisha prove: the procedure for handling applications by Gaza Strip residents for relocation in the West Bank remained impossible also after the amendments which were made therein
In 2009, as part of the Israeli policy, the purpose of which is to isolate the Gaza Strip and segregate it from the West Bank, the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) published a procedure which almost completely blocks any possibility to relocate from the Gaza Strip to the West Bank for residency purposes. The procedure provides that Palestinians from the Strip would be allowed to "settle" in the West Bank only in exceptional and extraordinary humanitarian cases, and subject to compliance with threshold conditions which are so rigid, to the extent which makes it hard to believe that there is anyone who can satisfy the narrow criteria established therein. HaMoked conducted a legal battle against the severity of the procedure, which included, inter alia, the filing of petitions with the High Court of Justice, following which the military adopted, in August 2013, an amended procedure. However, there are hardly any differences between the amended procedure and its predecessor.

On November 26, 2012, before the amended procedure was published, HaMoked and Gisha submitted to the authorities an application according to the Freedom of Information Act, for the receipt of details concerning the procedure and the manner of its implementation. The military was asked, inter alia, how many applications for relocation from the Gaza Strip to the West Bank were received and approved. Only after a petition was filed with the court, the military admitted that ever since the procedure entered into effect, in March 2009, and until the publication, in August 2013, of its amended version, not a single application for relocation to the West Bank was submitted thereunder.

In August 2014, a year after the publication of the amended procedure, HaMoked and Gisha turned again to the military and presented it with identical questions, in order to find out whether any change occurred from the date of its amendment. The military's response, dated September 15, 2014, indicates that the amendments which were made in the procedure did not result in any significant change in the number of applications which were submitted and approved. According to the military, ever since the publication of the amended procedure only two settlement applications in the West Bank were handled – one of which was approved and the other dismissed – however, both of them were submitted before the publication of the amendment, and with respect of both of them HaMoked filed petitions with the High Court of Justice, which have not yet been resolved at that time. Eventually, "it was decided, due to the mistake, to handle them [the two applications] according to the outline established in the procedure" as stated by the military. Indeed, a separate letter which was received from the military indicates that eight settlement applications which were submitted after the publication of the updated procedure were "identified", all of which were summarily denied in view of the argument that they were not submitted according to the procedure, and the applicants were forced to re-submit the applications, through the Palestinian Authority.

Hence, the amendment of the procedure did not change the situation, and even its more "lenient" version does not provide a solution to Palestinians who need to relocate from the Gaza Strip to the West Bank. It seems that behind the minor changes which were made in the procedure, following the court's intervention, there was no real intention to promote a solution for the current situation, and that it is yet another measure which Israel exercises in its efforts to separate between the Strip and the West Bank and turn the movement of the Palestinian population between these two areas into one-way movement.
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In 2009, as part of the Israeli policy, the purpose of which is to isolate the Gaza Strip and segregate it from the West Bank, the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) published a procedure which almost completely blocks any possibility to relocate from the Gaza Strip to the West Bank for residency purposes. The procedure provides that Palestinians from the Strip would be allowed to "settle" in the West Bank only in exceptional and extraordinary humanitarian cases, and subject to compliance with threshold conditions which are so rigid, to the extent which makes it hard to believe that there is anyone who can satisfy the narrow criteria established therein. HaMoked conducted a legal battle against the severity of the procedure, which included, inter alia, the filing of petitions with the High Court of Justice, following which the military adopted, in August 2013, an amended procedure. However, there are hardly any differences between the amended procedure and its predecessor.

On November 26, 2012, before the amended procedure was published, HaMoked and Gisha submitted to the authorities an application according to the Freedom of Information Act, for the receipt of details concerning the procedure and the manner of its implementation. The military was asked, inter alia, how many applications for relocation from the Gaza Strip to the West Bank were received and approved. Only after a petition was filed with the court, the military admitted that ever since the procedure entered into effect, in March 2009, and until the publication, in August 2013, of its amended version, not a single application for relocation to the West Bank was submitted thereunder.

In August 2014, a year after the publication of the amended procedure, HaMoked and Gisha turned again to the military and presented it with identical questions, in order to find out whether any change occurred from the date of its amendment. The military's response, dated September 15, 2014, indicates that the amendments which were made in the procedure did not result in any significant change in the number of applications which were submitted and approved. According to the military, ever since the publication of the amended procedure only two settlement applications in the West Bank were handled – one of which was approved and the other dismissed – however, both of them were submitted before the publication of the amendment, and with respect of both of them HaMoked filed petitions with the High Court of Justice, which have not yet been resolved at that time. Eventually, "it was decided, due to the mistake, to handle them [the two applications] according to the outline established in the procedure" as stated by the military. Indeed, a separate letter which was received from the military indicates that eight settlement applications which were submitted after the publication of the updated procedure were "identified", all of which were summarily denied in view of the argument that they were not submitted according to the procedure, and the applicants were forced to re-submit the applications, through the Palestinian Authority.

Hence, the amendment of the procedure did not change the situation, and even its more "lenient" version does not provide a solution to Palestinians who need to relocate from the Gaza Strip to the West Bank. It seems that behind the minor changes which were made in the procedure, following the court's intervention, there was no real intention to promote a solution for the current situation, and that it is yet another measure which Israel exercises in its efforts to separate between the Strip and the West Bank and turn the movement of the Palestinian population between these two areas into one-way movement.
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