Quartet Representative Tony Blair met with representatives of the Campaign for the
Right to Enter
on 17 April to discuss the obstacles that foreign passport holders encounter
when they seek to enter or reside in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt), and their
likely impact on the Quartet’s efforts to revive Palestinian economic life.

Campaign member Charles Shammas explained that “contrary to international law, Israel
continues to exercise its control over entry and residency in an arbitrary, capricious and
political manner that seriously harms Palestinian economic, social and cultural life.”

In the past two years, hundreds of Palestinians with foreign passports and other foreign
nationals have been denied entry into the oPt. Many others have been denied permits to
stay in the oPt and expelled. Israel’s failure to act on the overwhelming majority of
family reunification applications since 2000 directly affects at least half a million people
whose families remain separated or under threat of separation. Vital health, educational,
religious and social services are handicapped and disrupted. Business investment is
deterred or thwarted. Families are forced to relocate outside the oPt just to stay together.

Campaign members drew Mr Blair’s attention to the futility of attempting to attract
investment in the oPt while the ability of investors’ to directly manage and oversee their
investments and the ability of Palestinian institutions and businesses to recruit and retain
the human resources needed for development remains uncertain and subject to Israel’s
political discretion. The upcoming May investor’s conference in Bethlehem, part of the
Quartet’s current efforts to stimulate foreign investment in the Palestinian economy, is
likely to be confronted with such critical questions by participants who will only be able
to attend the 3-day conference under an exceptional arrangement with Israel.
Despite the repeated calls of states whose nationals have been denied entry to the oPt
Israeli authorities have persistently failed to establish a transparent, internationally lawful
policy on which foreign nationals wishing to enter or maintain their presence in the
occupied Palestinian territory can rely. The Campaign stressed the need for a
comprehensive solution for the broad spectrum of foreign nationals that are vulnerable to
arbitrary exclusion or expulsion.

The Campaign urged the Quartet to begin receiving, compiling and reviewing data on
Israel’s exercise of control over entry, residency, and family unification in the occupied
Palestinian territory. “To have any hope of success, the Quartet should start sending clear
signals that the arbitrary exclusion and expulsion of foreign passport holders from the
oPt, like Israel’s other abusive restrictions on movement and access, violates Israel’s
treaty obligations to the states represented in the Quartet, is contrary to the UN Charter,
and thus directly concerns the Quartet itself” Shammas concluded.

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