Israel Tightens Policy on Re-entry Visas
JERUSALEM, Israel, SEPT. 25, 2007 (Zenit.org).- The Israeli government is no longer granting routine re-entry visas to Arab Christian religious leaders who wish to travel in and out of occupied Palestinian territories.
According to information given to the Holy Land Christian Ecumenical Foundation by Christian clergy in Jerusalem, Christian church workers will now have to apply for re-entry visas at Israeli consulates each time they travel outside of areas occupied by Israel, a process that normally takes months.
Until now, re-entry visas were normally granted, and church workers traveled around the area and overseas with relative ease.
The new policy means that clergy will no longer be able to move freely between their parishes in occupied territories.
The Holy Land Christian Ecumenical Foundation offered the example of Father Fares Khleifat, the only Greek Melkite priest in Ramallah, who traveled to Jordan for several days earlier this month. When he tried to return to his parish on Sept. 14, he was stopped at the Israeli border, and his multiple-entry visa was canceled.
He has been forced to remain in Jordan and his parish now has no priest.