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Biometrics shipment to Palestinian Authority mysteriously released after being confiscated

Biometrics shipment to Palestinian Authority mysteriously released after being confiscated

Four years after Israel approved the Palestinian Authority’s plan to install biometric passport systems — and almost a year after Israel confiscated said systems — the PA says it again has permission to modernize its border document infrastructure.

The equipment, used to issue biometric passports, was purchased from a French vendor that is very good at hiding its identity when it comes to the 2016 deal.

An unknown quantity of computer equipment and electronics were shipped from France to Israel’s Ashdod port, arriving in March 2019. For reasons that have not been divulged publicly, Israel’s government decided to sit on the shipment until last week.

The British government, which has kept occasional tabs on the troubled shipment, seems to be as much in the dark as anyone else.

More secure borders for the PA would seem to be in Israel’s best interest or, presumably, government leaders would not have agreed to let the PA buy the systems in the first place. The Palestinian government has said it will issue biometric documents including driver’s licenses, identity cards and medical insurance cards.

It is possible that Israeli government officials hung onto the shipment last March to inspect thoroughly it or to possibly even help update the software.

Among the top-selling French biometric systems makers are Idemia, Thales Digital Identity and Security (formerly known as Gemalto), and IN Groupe.

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