Israel rejected Hamad’s request for a visa renewal three months ago even though her Palestinian husband and their three youngest children have West Bank residency. (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)
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American Kate Hamad doesn't dare leave Ramallah, fearing trouble, even deportation, if stopped at an Israeli checkpoint on the outskirts of the autonomous Palestinian city in the West Bank.Hamad is among a growing number of foreigners in the West Bank who are having Israeli visa problems, according to Palestinian officials and Israeli lawyers.The underlying problem for foreigners is that the Palestinian self-rule government, which administers 38 percent of the West Bank, does not have the authority to grant them residency without approval by Israel.Palestinians and their foreign spouses are often presented with impossible choices – separation, emigration or life in the West Bank without legal status. Some of the foreigners said they were also told that on a spouse visa, they are not allowed to do paid work for Palestinian companies or organizations.The Palestinian Interior Ministry, which mainly deals with spouse visas, said it submitted 2,220 applications to Israel last year, with 247 rejected.Jewish Americans, including those in Israeli settlements in the West Bank, are instantly eligible for Israeli citizenship under Israel's "law of return" for diaspora Jews.
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