Ayelet Balaban, a Jerusalem-born Israeli living in Moshav Ganei Tal east of Ashdod, renewed her British passport recently and found herself in the midst of a diplomatic scandal.
Balaban told Reshet Bet radio on Wednesday: “I wanted to renew my passport that was about to expire, so right after operation Guardian of the Walls, I registered at the website, filled out all the forms, took a photo of my Israeli passport, sent the old passport via the Israeli post, received a message that it had arrived and within two weeks it was here, I received it two days ago.”
And then, she continued, “When I opened it, I discovered that my place of birth was changed to Occupied Palestine.”
If this is a new policy of Her Majesty’s foreign office, it is very recent since the British passport that was issued to Balaban’s brother only two years ago states that he was born in Jerusalem, as did her old passport before she sent it in for alterations.
“I thought maybe they were confused because I live on a moshav of Gush Katif evacuees,” Balaban said, but noted that this fact is unrelated – the change was not made in her current address but her place of birth.
“I could not figure out what this thing means, I was mostly in shock, what does it say in my passport? How do I get around with it now?” she shared her distress.
“Yesterday morning I emailed the Israeli embassy in England, to [Ambassador] Tzipi Hotoveli, and haven’t yet received a response,” she said.
Balaban inquired with other British passport holders, and with Nefesh B’Nefesh, but no one has run into a similar situation so far.
Seeing as the British foreign office is run by a pro-Israel Conservative government, it stands to reason that the unfortunate entry was made by some zealous anti-Israel employee without a policy change. Stay tuned.