Israel Refuses to Recognize “State of Palestine” Letterhead

GAZA (Reuters) -

Israel has denied entry permits to some 50 Palestinians from the Gaza Strip because the words “State of Palestine” appears on the letterhead of their application, officials said on Wednesday.

“On Sunday [the Palestinians] filed a range of requests … on a document that said ‘State of Palestine.’ On the spot, we returned it to them, saying they should refile the request on appropriate paperwork,” said Major Guy Inbar, a spokesman for COGAT, the military-run authority that handles entry permits.

The Palestinians were seeking medical treatment in Israel, and 10 applicants whose cases were urgent were allowed to enter while about 50 others were not.

Omar al-Naser of the Palestinian Health Ministry in Ramallah said the ministry had been using the “State of Palestine” letterhead for a year without any move by Israel to deny patients entry.

It was unclear why Israeli authorities took exception this time, but the decision coincided with diplomatic wrangling in U.S.-sponsored peace talks over Israel’s demand that Palestinians recognize it as a Jewish state in any final accord.

In the past, Palestinian entry applications had the words “Palestinian Authority,” an entity established under interim peace deals with Israel, in their letterhead.