Thousands of Palestinians who have settled in Palestinian-controlled areas without permission from Israel will be allowed to stay, reported the associated Press.
"The decision Wednesday by Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak's security cabinet will apply to 5,000 Palestinians who entered the Palestinian areas on tourist visas," said spokesman for the Israeli army's coordinator of activities in the territories, Shlomo Dror.
Dror estimated that 40,000 Palestinians have arrived in the West Bank and Gaza Strip since the signing of the Oslo peace accords in 1993.
Many have applied for family reunification, which would allow them to become legal residents of the territories, said AP.
Some of the Palestinians were born abroad; others left the territories during Israel's occupation, and lost their residency status. Israel still has the ultimate say over residency even in Palestinian-controlled areas.
Dror was quoted as saying that the figure of 5,000 was chosen as a "humanitarian gesture" to reflect the number of Palestinians who have lost residency status in the countries where they resided before arriving in Palestinian controlled areas, according to AP - Albawaba.com
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