Defense Minister Ehud Barak authorized Tuesday the reopening of the Jalame checkpoint, north of the West Bank city of Jenin, to civilian vehicles.
The move, he said, "Is part of the important cooperation between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, which will boost local commerce."
The Jalame checkpoint was closed in 2000, shortly after the al-Aqsa Intifada began. Nevertheless, the close relationship between Jenin Governor Kadura Musa and Gilboa Regional Council Head Danny Atar has proven useful; eventually leading to the checkpoint's reopening.
Barak with Atar (L) and Kadura (Photo: Hagai Aharon)
"Anyone comparing the situation in Judea and Samaria today to the way things were two years ago, cannot help but be impressed by the things people like Kadura and Atar have done on a regional level," said Barak.
The defense minister, who toured the Gilboa area Tuesday, also mentioned Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad government's efforts, alongside Israel the US and Europe's, "To promote peace, normalcy and the chance for peace."
The checkpoint will be completely operational within several weeks and 400-500 cars are expected to pass through it daily.
"We'll have to make arrangements for this checkpoint to be efficient… there are ideas for a joint venture in producing olive oil and herbs. It's time to push the economy and there's no economy without freedom of movement," added Barak.
The joint venture, added Atar, "Is critical to future relationships and is a significant turning point. If the financial situation won't improve, the current calm will not last," he said.
Kadura expressed his hopes that Israel will release Palestinian prisoners as a goodwill gesture ahead of Eid al-Fitr, which marks the end of the fasting of Ramadan, a request Barak promised to give "serious consideration."