UN official concerned over new movement restrictions being prepared by Israel

Speaking to reporters after returning from the occupied Palestinian territories, Rene Aquarone, Chief of the Geneva Liaison Office of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), said that under the new system, any Palestinian who wanted to move from one city to another in the West Bank would need a permit valid for one month. In addition, Jerusalem ID card holders would be prevented from traveling to the occupied territories. As a result, UNRWA and other agencies would have to use international drivers for all of their vehicles. “We are very concerned because if these announced measures are put into effect, this will cripple the activities of the Agency,” Mr. Aquarone said. “We are trying to engage with the authorities and explain to them that of course this is not in conformity with the responsibilities of Israel as an occupying power, and certainly not in accordance either with its responsibilities to the Agency.” UNRWA, which currently employs close to 14,000 Palestinian staffers in the Palestinian territories and some 100 international staffers, is now monitoring the possible implementation of the new measures, according to Mr. Aquarone. read more