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Foreign tourists barred from visiting Israel and Palestinian areas in same trip
08-23-2009, 03:39 AM,
Foreign tourists barred from visiting Israel and Palestinian areas in same trip

Foreign tourists barred from visiting Israel and Palestinian areas in same trip

Israel has told many foreign tourists they will not be allowed to visit Israel and the Palestinian areas in same trip, in a move the US called "unacceptable."

By Dina Kraft in Tel Aviv
Published: 8:58PM BST 20 Aug 2009

According to new Israeli travel restrictions, some foreign nationals who cross into the West Bank from Jordan via the Allenby Bridge, one of two crossings into the area, are given a new "Palestinian Authority Only" stamp in their passport and barred from travel in Israel.

Many of those given the stamp are reportedly European and US citizens who have relatives in the West Bank.

US diplomats met with their Israeli counterparts in Jerusalem to complain about the new directive. The Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported that a number of European diplomats based in Israel were also planning to protest the move.

"The United States expects that all American citizens be treated equally, regardless of their national origin or other citizenship," the US State Department said in a statement on Wednesday.

"We have let the government of Israel know that these restrictions unfairly impact Palestinian and Arab-American travellers, and are not acceptable."

Some foreign nationals arriving in Israel at the country's main airport in Tel Aviv, meanwhile, have reportedly been asked to sign pledges not to enter Palestinian Authority territory without coordinating such visits with the army.

Senior foreign ministry officials quoted in Haaretz blamed their colleagues in the interior ministry for setting the new procedures, saying they did not understand the logic behind them.

"All it does is damage Israel's image," said an official who was quoted anonymously.

The tourism ministry has also complained about the new stamp to the interior ministry.

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