Israeli U-turn over West Bank romance declarations

Israel has dropped a controversial demand for foreigners visiting the occupied West Bank to report romantic links with Palestinians within 30 days.

Revised rules also on foreigners living in, or wanting to, visit the territory remove a quota for university lecturers and students from abroad.

The Palestinian Prime Minister, Mohammed Shtayyeh, described them as “racist measures”.

Israel says restrictions on travel into the West Bank are for security reasons.

The US ambassador to Israel, Tom Nides said he had “aggressively engaged” with the Israeli government and continued “to have concerns with the published protocols”.

European diplomats previously said they had brought up concerns “at the highest level” with the Israeli authorities.

Mr Shtayyeh has called on the US and EU to apply diplomatic pressure to make further changes.

The procedures affect thousands of foreign spouses, as well as Palestinians living in the diaspora, businesspeople, academics and volunteers.

A senior source at the Co-ordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (Cogat), the unit of the Israeli ministry of defence responsible for Palestinian civil affairs, told me they were intended “for the convenience of foreigners” and would allow requests for more long-term visas.

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