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Israel OKs Arab Idol winner's move.

JERUSALEM -- Fame has opened a door for a former Gaza wedding singer that remains closed for others in the blockaded territory: Mohammed Assaf, winner of the popular TV talent contest Arab Idol, gets to move to the West Bank.

The West Bank and Gaza lie on either side of Israel. Citing security reasons, Israel has severely restricted movement between the two territories for more than a decade.

And though in the past two years Israel retroactively granted West Bank residency to more than 4,000 Gazans and their offspring who had already been living in the West Bank for years, cases of Gazans being permitted to move to the West Bank are extremely rare.

Assaf, 23, from the Khan Younis refugee camp in Gaza is one such case.

Guy Inbar, an Israeli military spokesman, confirmed on Tuesday that Israel has granted West Bank residency to Assaf, his sister, brother-in-law and the couple's three children. Inbar said Israel responded to a request by the Palestinian Authority, the West Bank-based self-rule government of President Mahmoud Abbas.

Assaf won the Arab Idol contest in Beirut in June. After that, the charismatic performer became a symbol of Palestinian pride, and Abbas embraced him as a national hero.

-- The Associated Press
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Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Geographic Code:7ISRA
Date:Aug 7, 2013
Words:206
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