Israeli Post Office Says Palestinian Cannot Send Package Abroad

When B.M. displayed a 'green' ID card, issued to residents of the territories, the clerk asked if he had any other identification, and eventually refused to send his package abroad.

Postal clerks refused to allow a Ramallah resident to mail a package from Jerusalem to Britain this week on grounds that his ID card from the territories did not constitute sufficient identification.

B.M., 44, who works with an international aid agency and has a permit to cross into Israel, came Sunday to Jerusalem's main post office on Jaffa Road to send a package containing two books to the U.K. After the clerk weighed the package, which he had left open for scrutiny, she asked B.M. for NIS 30 and his ID card.

When he handed her a "green" ID card, issued to residents of the territories, she asked if he had any other identification.

When he asked if she meant a Palestinian passport, she said definitely not, and asked if he had a passport from any other country.

When he answered in the negative, she said she would have to consult, and came back to inform him that he could not send his package, without explaining why.

Until the year 2000, B.M. had a post office box at this same postal branch.

Israel Post spokeswoman Shiry Eden said, "According to security regulations, when sending a package, a Palestinian, like any foreign citizen, must show the postal clerk his passport or an official Israeli identity document.

"These rules have been in place for at least 10 years," she continued. "There's no difference whatsoever between a resident of the Palestinian Authority and any other foreign resident, and the postal company treats everyone similarly in accordance with the security guidelines. A British citizen who wants to send a package to Britain would also only be able to do so by showing a British passport, not a British identity card."

However, the Palestinian identity card is an official Israeli document, written in both Hebrew and Arabic, although it is issued by the PA. No person can be registered as a resident of the West Bank or Gaza and hold such an ID card without Israeli authorization, and all information on the PA identity cards is in Israel's Interior Ministry database.

Moreover, British citizens and Palestinians are not otherwise treated the same by the authorities: A British citizen entering Israel must show a passport or laissez-passer, while a Palestinian crossing a West Bank checkpoint need only show an entry permit and his identity card.

Emil Salman
Limor Edrey