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Israel Bars Italian Woman From Joining Family in West Bank

An applicant must submit an orderly request "to the relevant population administration bureau." But for West Bank Palestinians, the "relevant" bureau is known as the Civil Administration, of which the CLA is a part.

How can an Italian citizen reunite with her Palestinian spouse and two children in Ramallah? Ezia Quagliozzi and her husband, Maher Sha'abaneh, have been trying for over a month to get together.

The Interior Ministry, through the Jerusalem District Prosecutor's Office, initially informed the family that requests to visit the West Bank must be submitted through the Coordination and Liaison Administration (CLA). Amit Zochman, from the office of the Israel Defense Forces' legal counsel, wrote to the family's lawyer, Yossi Nakar, that "the CLA currently is not accepting requests for permits to visit the area, except in extraordinary humanitarian instances, which do not include the case in question." The Interior Ministry told Haaretz that an applicant must submit an orderly request "to the relevant population administration bureau." But for West Bank Palestinians, the "relevant" bureau is known as the Civil Administration, of which the CLA is a part. And with the closure, who can travel to an Interior Ministry bureau in Israel to submit a request there?

Sha'abaneh and Quagliozzi wed in Italy, where Sha'abaneh studied to become a dental technician. Their daughter Linda was born there. Three years ago, they returned to Ramallah, where Sha'abaneh opened a dental laboratory. Quagliozzi came and went in accordance with her tourist visa. In April 2003, she returned from a visit to Italy in her seventh month of pregnancy. Her tourist visa was good for two weeks, but pregnancy complications kept her from leaving. She was hospitalized in Ramallah and delivered her son, Ahmed, by Caesarian section in May.

After the delivery, both mother and child were in bad shape. A request to stay was rejected, but Quagliozzi did not have the emotional and physical strength to travel to Italy. Another request, in July 2004, was also rejected. In October, her health improved sufficiently for a brief visit to Italy. Returning to Ben-Gurion International Airport on October 17, Quagliozzi was refused entry, because she had previously overstayed her visa.

The family fought her deportation through the Jerusalem District Court. Attorney Yael Heiman of the State Prosecutor's Office opposed the petition, arguing at an October 20 hearing that Quagliozzi failed to exhaust all procedures prior to arriving in Israel. Heiman said Quagliozzi should have asked her husband to apply for CLA authorization and then to request a visiting permit on her behalf. "Such approval is granted to the Palestinian resident, and the foreigner - the petitioner - is then supposed to apply to the Israeli consulate in her country of residence and receive a B/1 visa to visit the territories. That is the arrangement in place today," Heiman argued.

Ramallah CLA told Haaretz that the Interior Ministry is in charge. The Interior Ministry told Haaretz on November 17 that the request was previously handled by the population administration bureau in Afula, where an Israeli relative resides. "The above mentioned claimed she is married and pregnant, but did not present any document substantiating her claims; it was unclear where she resides," the Interior Ministry wrote in response. "After her request was declined, she submitted another request to the Ramallah CLA, which also rejected her request on similar grounds. If the above mentioned wishes to return for a visit to Israel, the host in Israel must submit an orderly request to the relevant population administration bureau, along with all necessary documents for substantiating the claims, and the request will be considered as usual."

Quagliozzi is now in Amman, barred from reaching Ramallah and her children - seven-year-old Linda and 16-month-old Ahmed.