Ramallah: Thousands of Palestinians living abroad are expected to be issued Palestinian ID cards after Israeli occupation authorities have recently relaxed stifling procedures.
Now, Palestinians under the age of 16 will be eligible to receive ID cards, a Palestinian official has said.
Previously, Israeli authorities only issued registration numbers to children up to five years old which gave families a very brief window to sort their matters.
Now, anyone under the age of 16 can be registered, opening the door for thousands of children who missed the opportunity to take advantage of the new procedure.
Hussain Al Shaikh, the head of the Palestinian General Authority for Civil Affairs has encouraged families abroad to bring their children as soon as possible to start the paperwork.
“Parents must present the child’s original birth certificate to Israeli passport monitoring personnel,” Al Shaikh told Gulf News, adding that families should begin applying with the civil affairs authority immediately.
Palestinians from 1948 areas or residents of occupied territories are required to carry ID cards at all times as no one can enter Gaza or the West Bank without one.
Israel has used ID cards as a way to control the population ever since it began its occupation in 1967.
All Palestinians who left the occupied West Bank at the time were not issued ID cards.
“As a result of this policy, tens of thousands of Palestinians were not included in the national census over the years. They were essentially denied the right to be nationals of Palestine,” Al Shaikh said.
To be eligible, one parent must have an ID card and must travel to the occupied West Bank to register his/her child.
The procedures were often very inconvenient for families. For example, if only the father had the ID card, he would have to accompany his infant or toddler without mother for at least a month in order to register him.
It is unclear why Israel relaxed the rules, but according to Maarouf Zahran, the former Undersecretary of the Palestinian General Authority of Civil Affairs, the regime should not be commended for it.
“It is the right of Palestinian families to give their children ID cards. We shouldn’t applaud the regime for affording us our basic rights,” he told Gulf News.
Israeli authorities have yet to relax rules for husbands and wives to give each other the Palestinian identity.
Before the Second Palestinian Intifada in 2000, partners were able to give their spouses an ID card through the family unification application.
But, Israel suspended applications after 2000 as a punitive measure.
There are currently 150,000 family unification applications that have yet to be processed.