Palestinians to receive direct mail for the first time

The agreement is unusual in a time when representatives from both governments rarely meet, let alone sit at a table adorned with a small Israeli and Palestinian flag.

September 4, 2016 23:38
1 minute read.
Yoav Mordechai and Hussein al-Sheikh.

COGAT’s Major General Yoav Mordechai, and the Minister of Civil Affairs in the Palestinian Authority, Hussein al-Sheikh, sign the memorandum of understanding.. (photo credit: COGAT SPOKESMAN)

In one small step toward autonomy, Palestinians can, for the first time, receive mail directly thanks to a new postal agreement signed on Sunday between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

Until now, Israeli conducted global postal affairs for the Palestinians, including financial transactions. Mail would come first to Israel, which then transferred it to local Palestinian post offices in the West Bank and Gaza.

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That system changed on Sunday, when the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) and PA Minister for Civil Affairs Hussein al-Sheikh signed a memorandum of understanding to give the Palestinians postal rights.

The agreement is unusual in a time when representatives from both governments rarely meet, let alone sit at a table adorned with small Israeli and Palestinian flags. Mail will now come directly to Palestinians either from Israel or Jordan.

“The MOU is designed to gradually regulate direct transfer of mail from around the world to the Palestinian Authority through Jordan via the Allenby Bridge,” COGAT said.

“In addition, the agreement will begin direct mail transfer between Israel and the Palestinian Authority,” COGAT stated.

Under the terms of the new agreement, the PA can also conduct direct financial interactions with other postal authorities around the globe, rather than going through Israel.

The agreement finalizes an understanding that was reached already in 2008, with the help of the United Nation’s Universal Postal Union (UPU), which regulates mail exchange around the globe for member states of the UN as well as non-member states with special privileges like the Palestinians.

The UN’s UPU gave the Palestinians special observer status already in 1999 and accepted at that point that Palestinians had a right to receive mail directly. In 2008, it also stated that the Palestinians Authority had the right to receive the revenues associated with it.

In 2012, the UPU’s Council of Administration adopted a resolution that reaffirmed both those rights.

After an eight year delay, on Sunday, COGAT signed an agreement that granted the Palestinians those rights.

“The understanding will enable the Palestinian Authority to carry out the accounting for terminal dues directly in front of foreign managers for distribution of mail,” COGAT said. “With the signing of the memorandum of understanding, the parties will begin the process of implementing the principles fully,” COGAT said.

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