Sep 22, 2021

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The Palestinian Authority has been issuing passports to its citizens for the purposes of international travel in 1995 as part of the Oslo Accords. The requirements for receiving the passport are a bt vague since eligibility is based on producing a birth certificate proving the holder was born in “Palestine.” No independent political entity called Palestine has ever existed. What constitutes “Palestine” for this purpose is not clear. In practice, only residents of areas under the Palestinian Authority jurisdiction can apply. Whether Palestinians born outside Palestine could apply for the passport is also not clear.

Until last Friday, PA passports retained the personal ID number of the Israeli Civil Administration. According to Hebrew weekly Makor Rishon, since the Oslo Accords, the PA independently registered birth and deaths. It was also issuing identification cards to all its residents at the age of 16.

The passports issued by the Authority bear the name “Palestinian Authority” and not “State of Palestine.” The registration information was transmitted to Israel for validation and to permit PA residents to travel abroad.

On Friday, the Palestinian Interior Ministry announced that it began printing its own passports and is working with international entities to enable the registration of its people without first registering them in Israel.

“We are seeking to build a new civil registration framework and system regardless of the [Israeli] occupation,” Palestinian Interior Ministry spokesman Rassam Namer told Agence-France Presse on Friday. “We are now listing residents in our records and passing the information on to Ramallah and not to the occupation government as was the case until May.”

The move reportedly comes at the behest of Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh and is consistent with an announcement by PA President Mahmoud Abbas who, on May 19, declared that all agreements with Israel and the US were null and void.

The PA does not control its borders. All persons entering PA-controlled areas must be granted permission by Israel. 

As such, a Palestinian passport has little use for international travel. A site ranking the mobility score of passports from around the world ranked the Palestinian passport the seventh-worst passport in the world.