Two Palestinians Receive Permits to Enter Southern City of Eilat, in Rare Move

The authorities rarely allow Palestinians into the port city, despite the many requests by an Israeli ecological institute.

Albatross

Two West Bank Palestinians have received entry permits to Israel that include Eilat, says a nonprofit group that for years has been trying to win Palestinians permission to enter the southern port city.

According to the Gisha Legal Center for Freedom of Movement on Wednesday, the two Palestinians study at the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies north of Eilat.

The Israeli authorities normally prohibit Palestinians with Israeli entry permits from entering Eilat, but they have never explained why. Most affected are Palestinians who study at the Arava Institute.

For years, Gisha has been asking the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories to revoke the ban; emails to the group show that the authorities have never explained it.

In May, Gisha noted that 50 Palestinian businesses had received permits to enter the port for a conference. Gisha argued that the ban was arbitrary and that the benefits of Palestinians studying at the institute were equal to the benefits of commercial ties with Palestinians.

The Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories said the conference was a “key Israeli, Palestinian and international interest. The conference dealt with the importing of goods through the Eilat port.”

It added that studies at the institute largely take place at the institute itself, and that Palestinians receive permits on a special basis because of the “uniqueness of this joint environmental project.”