Residents of Judea & Samaria (“the Area”) who are not Israeli citizens, wishing to use an Israeli or Palestinian vehicle within the boundaries of the State of Israel, must have a valid driver’s license and a driving permit.

The driving license is held as proof, that the driver is qualified to properly handle and operate a motor vehicle.

In accordance, with article 578(a) of the Israeli Transportation Regulations of 1961 (“the regulations”), residents of the Area possessing a drivers license issued by the Palestinian Authority do not need an Israeli drivers license.

In addition to a driver’s license, residents of the Area must also have a driving permit, this, with regard to an Israeli vehicle, in accordance with article 578(b) of the regulations, and with regard to a Palestinian vehicle, in accordance with article 2 of the Traffic and Transportation Ordinance of 1968. In accordance with these articles, the Military Commander of the Area has authorized the Head of the Economic Affairs Branch in the Civil Administration to issue such permits.

To date, the standing Military Commander’s policy allows driving permits to be issued only under special circumstances, for humanitarian needs only. This policy is based on security-related assessments and considerations, which show a significant risk in allowing residents of the Area to drive freely within the State of Israel. This policy was approved of by the High Court of Justice, in HCJ 5539/05 Gadir Attallah v. The Minister of Defense.

The HCJ held, that the security-related decision was properly founded, and that the security status and the special circumstances of the Area indeed justify the limitation regarding the use of motor vehicles by residents of the Area in Israel. The HCJ further held, that residents of the Area do not necessarily have a  right to drive a vehicle individually in Israel proper, and the possession of a permit to enter Israel freely in order to be united with one’s family, is not in itself reason enough to justify deviation from the general policy.

Recently, as a result of an extensive review of the matter by the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (the COGAT), security representatives and the ministries of Transportation and of Justice, a new procedure was published, regarding the issue of driving permits on Israeli vehicles for the residents of Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip” (“the procedure“).

According to article 4(d) of the procedure, the pre-requisites for the issue of a driving permit are as follows:

1)   That the resident have a valid permit for the purpose of family unity;

2)   That the resident has stayed in Israel by force of a family unity permit for at least three years; and,

3)   That one of the resident’s first degree relatives, living in Israel as a citizen   or as a permanent resident, suffer from a medical condition which requires frequent medical treatment, requiring urgent referrals to a medical establishment, provided that the sick relative’s spouse is not fit to drive an Israeli vehicle and that there is no other alternative means of the relative reaching the necessary medical establishment.

A request for a driving permit, by a resident fulfilling all the above criteria, and certain additional criteria, will be addressed by various security officials, prior to a final decision by head of the Economic Affairs Branch in the Civil Administration, who is authorized to decide whether to approve or to reject the request.

In cases where a resident does not yet possess a Palestinian driver’s license and he cannot request such a license from the Palestinian Authority, he may request that the head of the Economic Affairs Branch in the Civil Administration issue him a learner’s driving permit.

For further reading on this matter, you may refer to the full procedure on the Coordinator of Government Activities’ (COGAT).