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IDF checkpoint (archive) Photo: Tsafrir Abayov
IDF checkpoint (archive) Photo: Tsafrir Abayov
 
 

Israel removes checkpoints in Jericho, Ramallah

Initial step towards fulfilling Israeli pledge to ease restrictions in West Bank underway; Yesha Council slams evacuation of Rimonim checkpoint

Associated Press
Published: 03.31.08, 18:33 / Israel News

Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad Malki said Monday that Israel had removed two checkpoints in the West Bank town of Jericho as part of commitments made to US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

 

Malki said that Israel would also take down smaller barriers at different points around the West Bank.

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Rice announced the Israeli easements on Sunday during a visit to the region meant to prod along peace talks.

Malki told reporters Monday that Israel notified the Palestinians that the Jericho checkpoints were removed earlier in the day.

 

Meanwhile Israeli forces also began evacuating the Rimonim checkpoint near the West Bank city of Ramallah on Monday afternoon.

 

Officials in the Yesha Council slammed the move and announced they would hold an emergency meeting later in the day to discuss the matter.

 

Rice 'amazed' by Israeli concessions

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was said to be "amazed" by the Israeli gestures promised to the Palestinian Authority on Sunday, an Israeli source reported following a three-way meeting between the secretary, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad.

 

Ynet has learned that the series of gestures include the establishment of a city or several neighborhoods near the West Bank city of Ramallah, which would be financed by a Jordanian businessman.

 

The project would be built north of the town of al-Bireh and is aimed to be inhabited by tens of thousands of Palestinians in a bid to ease the housing shortage in the Ramallah area.

 

During her meetings Sunday with Barak and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, Rice said that such concessions were the only way for the process to move forward.

 

Barak also announced that 700 Palestinian police officers would be allowed to enter Jenin, and that a checkpoint and 50 dirt roadblocks would also be removed, easing the Palestinians' movement between the West Bank cities of Jenin, Tulkarm, Qalqilya and Ramallah.

 

Additional gestures presented in the meeting include:

 

• The establishment of a Palestinian police station in the B areas.

• The transfer of 25 armored vehicles to the Palestinians.

• Ease of restriction on Palestinian public figures.

• Building two intersections for the Palestinians in the Hebron area.

• Advancing the establishment of industrial zones in Jericho and hebron.

• Increasing the number of laborers allowed to work in Israel to 5,000.

 

In addition, Palestinian businesspeople passing through the crossing will undergo easier security checks, and the daily quota of people allowed to pass will be increased from 500 to 1,500.

 

Roni Sofer and Efrat Weiss contributed to this report

 

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