Includes information on business customs, travel advisory, visa requirements, and other aspects of international travel.
In general Palestinian businesses are family-oriented, built on trust and long-term relationships. Larger local businesses tend to be non-family owned. Palestinian business people are pragmatic and generally politically moderate. Owners of larger enterprises have international contacts and worldwide experience.
Although business orientation has in the past tended to be toward Europe and the Gulf, local entrepreneurs seek American partners because of their technical expertise and know-how. U.S. businesspeople that travel to the area should familiarize themselves with State Department travel warnings currently warning U.S. citizens of the risk of traveling to the West Bank and avoiding all travel to Gaza. If they do travel, they should concentrate on building strong personal relationships with potential partners. It is customary to discuss plans over cups of Arabic coffee or tea, and you may often be invited to the family home or out for a restaurant meal.
Most major Palestinian businesspeople speak English well, although when negotiating contractual terms it is advisable to use a good translator and a local attorney to assist with the agreement. Palestinians dress more formally than Israelis, usually in Western business suits. Business cards are always exchanged, and appointments can be made on short notice.
The normal workweek varies depending on the business, although most firms are closed on Fridays (Muslim holy day), even if the owner is Christian. Christian-owned firms are also generally closed on Sundays.
Current information on travel and security in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza may be obtained from the Department of State by calling 1-888-407-4747 within the United States, or, from overseas, 1-317-472-2328. U.S. citizens should consult the Travel Warning and Consular Information Sheet for Israel, the West Bank and Gaza, the Middle East and North Africa Public Announcement, and the Worldwide Caution Public Announcement, and the Worldwide Caution Public Announcement at the State Department’s Internet site.
For visa requirements to enter Israel, the West Bank and Gaza go to the State Department’s Internet site.
U.S. companies that require travel of foreign business persons to the United States are advised that most residents of the West Bank and Gaza will require a U.S. visa. Visa applicants should go to the following link(s):
All visa services are available at the U.S. Embassy Jerusalem
Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza routinely deal in the Israeli shekel, Jordanian dinar and U.S. dollar. Israeli shekels are preferred for retail business transactions while U.S. dollars and Jordanian dinars are preferred for savings. The euro is also used and accepted to make payments. ATM networks are readily accessible in urban areas of the West Bank, however traveler checks are not accepted.
The international dialing code for the West Bank and Gaza is +970. Calling fixed lines may require a city code: (02) Ramallah, Hebron and Jericho; (09) for Nablus, Tulkarem, and Qalqilya; (04) for Jenin; (08) for Gaza, and (972) (02) for Jerusalem. Mobile phone numbers for Jawwal begin with (059) and for Ooredoo start with (056). To call a fixed line from a mobile phone, dial the city code followed by the fixed line number.
Paltel is the only fixed line operator in the West Bank and Gaza. The company offers its 472,000 subscribers a full range of services, including local and international phone calls, access to the Internet, and payphone services. Jawwal and Ooredoo are the only two licensed mobile operators in the West Bank and Gaza.
Several VOIP, Wifi, BSA (Bit-Stream Access), and broadband service providers have entered the West Bank and Gaza. Wireless Internet can be found in many hotels, coffee shops, and restaurants. Electricity is at 220 Volts and European plugs are used so travelers are encouraged to carry adaptors.
U.S. business visitors may use one of the several taxi services in Jerusalem for travel in Jerusalem and the West Bank. Long-term business visitors may want to rent a car and driver. The U.S. Government warns against travel to Gaza. When traveling within the West Bank, travelers should keep their passports available for inspection at Israeli checkpoints. The Commercial Service strongly suggests checking the latest State Department Travel Advisory before considering trips to the West Bank and Gaza.
Palestinians speak Arabic; most heads of larger companies and many other Palestinians speak English well.
The following general hospitals are in the West Bank:
- Ramallah Government Hospital Tel: +970-2-298-2216
- Arab Care Hospital Tel: +970-2-298-6420
Palestinian hospitals only accept insurance issued by a local Palestinian insurance company, otherwise payment in cash is required. Hospitals usually ask for a deposit upon admittance of a patient and the amount is calculated according to estimated duration of treatment in hospital. In the West Bank very serious and untreatable cases are usually referred to Israeli hospitals. In the West Bank, Ramallah Government Hospital is very well equipped and staffed.
Travelers can obtain additional health information from the International Travelers Hotline of the Center for Disease Control by dialing: +(404) 332-4559.
Tap water is generally safe to drink and bottled water is readily available. No mandatory vaccinations are required when entering the country.
Local time, business hours, and holidays:
The local time is two hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time and Daylight Saving Time is observed. Most businesses are closed on Fridays, while some Christian-owned businesses close on Sundays and may also close on Fridays.
Muslim holidays include Eid Al Fitr, Eid al-Adha, the Islamic New Year (Ra’s as-Sana), the Prophet’s Birthday (Mawled), Isra, and Mi’ raj. Businesses are open on those holidays, but government offices are closed. Business and government offices close for three days for Eid Al Fitr and four days for El Adha. The U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem is closed on the recognized day of these holidays. The month-long Ramadan period began on April 12, 2021. During this period, businesses and government offices generally remain open, but business slows somewhat as observant Muslims are required to observe a fast from before sunrise to sunset. Islamic holidays are based on lunar calendar, so dates will vary from year to year. In addition, the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem is closed for official American and Jewish holidays:
American, Islamic, and Israeli Holidays: January, 2021
January 1 New Year’s Day 2021
January 18 Martin Luther King Day
February 15 President’s Day
March 28 Passover (1st Day)
April 3 Passover (Last Day)*
April 15 Israeli Independence Day*
April 30 Good Friday
May 13 Eid Al Fitr **
May 17 Shavuot (Pentecost)
May 31 Memorial Day
June 18 Juneteenth Day
July 5 U.S. Independence Day
July 20 Eid Al Adha **
September 6 Labor Day
September 7 Rosh Hashanah (New Year 1st Day)*
September 8 Rosh Hashanah (New Year 2nd Day)*
September 16 Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement)
September 21 Succot (Feast of Tabernacles)
September 28 Simhat Torah (Rejoicing of the Law)
October 11 Columbus Day
November 11 Veterans Day
November 25 Thanksgiving Day
December 24 Christmas Day
January 1, 2022 New Year’s Day
*Israeli National Holidays: All businesses in Israel are closed. Jewish holidays begin at sunset the day before. Businesses and offices close in the early afternoon of the day before. Many Israeli businesses close for the duration of Passover (7 days) and sukkot (8 days). Israeli checkpoints into the West Bank may also operate limited hours.
**Locally-observed Islamic Holidays: Dates for these holidays are based on the lunar calendar and currently estimated to be o/a May 13 for Eid Al Fitr and a/o July 20 for Eid Al Adha.
Temporary Entry of Materials and Personal Belongings:
The Palestinian Authority (PA) has not yet established specific provisions for temporary entry of goods. It is currently using Israeli regulations.