Israeli soldiers check cars at a checkpoint near the West Bank City of Jericho.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
For the first time in 15 years, a small number of vehicles with Palestinian license plates entered Israel on Tuesday.
Maj.-Gen. Yoav Mordechai, the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, permitted Palestinian doctors who work shifts and other hospital jobs in Israel – where immediate response time is essential – to drive vehicles with Palestinian license plates into the country.
“This is a significant step intended to assist doctors in completing their life-saving mission,” said Brig.-Gen. David Menachem, head of the Civil Administration in Judea and Samaria. “The success of this step will be evaluated in accordance with an assessment of the security situation.”
Vehicles with Israeli license plates can enter areas A and B of the West Bank, which are under the control of the Palestinian Authority. Vehicles with Israeli and Palestinian plates can travel on the roads in the West Bank’s Area C.
But vehicles with Palestinian plates have been banned from Israel since the outbreak of the second intifada in 2000. The Palestinian cars that drove into the country on Tuesday were the first to enter since then.
This is the latest in a series of gestures Israel has made to the PA in recent months, including the authorization of a water hook-up for the new Palestinian city of Rawabi.
Israel will also double water sales to the Gaza Strip, from 5 million cubic meters to 10 million cu.m., by putting online by next week new pipes and infrastructure that have been ready for operation for the last few years. The ban on the sale of Gaza produce to Israel was also eased for the first time since it was imposed in 2007.
Earlier this month, Israel released three months’ worth of Palestinian tax revenues, which it had withheld to protest the PA’s decision to join the International Criminal Court. And just last week, for the first time since the signing of the Oslo Accords 20 years ago, Israel allowed armed and uniformed Palestinian policemen to operate in a number of West Bank Palestinian communities surrounding Jerusalem.
These gestures have occurred even as the PA has continued to threaten a war crime suit and debates halting its security cooperation with Israel.Khaled Abu Toameh contributed to this report.