RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- Israel has agreed to register 216 Palestinians originally from the Gaza Strip as residents of the West Bank, a Palestinian Authority liaison department said Wednesday.
The Civil Affairs department, tasked with coordinating the population registry with Israel, released the names
of Palestinians who will now be able to reside in the West Bank without fear of detention.
It said the department would continue efforts to change the residency status of all Palestinians from Gaza who are living in the West Bank.
Palestinians living in the West Bank whose registered address is in the Gaza Strip have been detained by Israel as "illegal aliens."
Despite handing control of the population registry to the Palestinian Authority in the 1995 Oslo Accords, Israel stopped updating changes of address between the Gaza Strip and West Bank in its own system in 2000, effectively overriding the Palestinian government.
Israel received an estimated 120,000 change of address applications that it did not process between 2000 and 2005, according to Human Rights Watch.
Meanwhile Palestinians registered in Gaza were forbidden from traveling to the West Bank or changing their registered address despite living in the West Bank.
“Around 35,000 of these ‘Gazans’ had entered and resided in the West Bank using temporary permits that have expired,” a February report by Human Rights Watch said.
Citing a political gesture to the Palestinian Authority, Israel processed 33,000 registration applications between 2007 and 2009, and allowed around 2,800 Palestinians registered in Gaza to change their address to the West Bank.
“These steps have not cleared the backlog,” HRW said, calling for Israel to allow Palestinians to live in their own homes and travel freely.