The Palestinian Authority announced Sunday it would begin using its own postal codes, a move at easing the delivery of parcels in the occupied territories as well as asserting sovereignty.

International mail sent to or from the occupied West Bank currently has to pass through Jordan or Israel.

But the PA said Sunday it had asked the Universal Postal Union to notify its member states that Palestinian postal codes were coming into force.

"From April, postal items that do not bear a Palestinian postal code will not be processed," Palestinian Minister of Communications Ishaq Sidr told reporters in Ramallah, the West Bank headquarters of the Palestinian Authority.

"It is a question of asserting Palestinian rights," he said.

Palestinian postal codes would also help put an end to the seizure of shipments from abroad, Sidr said.

He said six tonnes of packages had been held up in Jordan since 2018, and accused Israel of obstructing deliveries.

Using postcodes "will prevent Israel from seizing postal items that come to Palestine, and will help make the services more efficient," Imad al-Tumayzi, head of international relations at the Palestinian Post, told AFP.

Palestinian minister of communications Ishaq Sidr says creating postcodes is about "asserting Palestinian rights"
Palestinian minister of communications Ishaq Sidr says creating postcodes is about "asserting Palestinian rights" AFP / JAAFAR ASHTIYEH

"In 2020, we recorded more than 7,000 violations of postal equipment on the Israeli side, whether by opening packages, seizing them or summoning their owners for investigation," he said.

Palestinians have complained that they are forced to use costly private courier services to send or receive parcels.

But it was not clear if the application of postal codes would cut mailing costs.

Official PA news agency Wafa said some half a million buildings in the West Bank had already been given postcodes.

It said the rollout would soon be extended to the Gaza Strip, under Israeli blockade and controlled by Islamists Hamas.

In the West Bank, a Palestinian postal worker who asked not to be named, said the new postcodes were "more symbolic than practical."

"Postal coding can only truly be implemented when the Palestinian Authority controls ports or airports," he said.

The West Bank, wedged between Israel and Jordan, has no operational civilian airport.