Palestinians cross an Israeli checkpoint in the West Bank city of Bethlehem.
(photo credit: MUSSA QAWASMA / REUTERS)
The Government on Sunday approved Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked’s initiative to stop Palestinians from entering the country if they who have unpaid debts to Israelis.
“This is the end of the era of Palestinians exploiting Israelis with the knowledge that they will not be able to collect debts from them,” said a statement from Shaked.
The new policy was approved after it revealed that Palestinians owe more than NIS 500m. to Israelis in official government collection cases, with an estimate of more than NIS 2.5b. in unreported debts overall.
In March 1998, the government approved – in theory – the idea that Palestinians would not be allowed to enter the country if they had outstanding debts to Israelis.
However, despite the policy existing on paper, it was never enforced, as it was based on the assumption that certain information would be provided by the Palestinian Authority regarding Palestinian debtors.
Also, in the past, a complex process required Israeli creditors to submit multiple requests to state authorities in addition to the standard judgment and collections process.
Under the new policy, once a judgment is registered with the collections authority against a Palestinian, that person will be stopped at the border during any attempt to enter the country and be given a 30-day warning.
If the debt has not been paid within the 30 days, the debtor will be refused further entry.
The Justice Ministry will carry out the new policy for debts to Israelis owed by Palestinians who reside within the Green Line, while an IDF legal unit will carry out the policy for such Palestinians living within the West Bank.
Shaked also credited Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman for helping her shepherd the new policy.