(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Planned steps to make life easier for Palestinians in the West Bank have been frozen in light of the new wave of violence, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said on Wednesday.
He spoke in response to a parliamentary question posed by Bayit Yehudi MK Orit Struck: “The IDF intends to open roads to the Arab population in Samaria, both within and near Jewish towns as part of a ‘relief package.’ What does the relief package include and what is the justification for its existence during a wave of terrorism?” Ya’alon answered that, in past years, the IDF had removed roadblocks and checkpoints on West Bank roads. In addition it had also increased the number of roads that were open to vehicles with Palestinian license plates.
But, he told Struck, “As a result of the escalation in the security situation, that we are all witness to, these steps have been frozen.”
He explained how, in the past, the IDF has increased or reduced restrictions on Palestinians, particularly with regard to travel, in reaction to the changing security situation.
But he did not provide any concrete details about other planned easements for Palestinians outside of road travel.
Struck also asked him to close additional roads to vehicles with Palestinian license plates in response to the “road intifada” in the West Bank.
Ya’alon also did not respond to her request to close roads where terrorist attacks had occurred. Any measures that are taken are based on security assessments, he said.
Her spokesman said that Struck asked the question at the request of settler leaders who fear that Ya’alon is about to open more roads to Palestinian vehicles despite the escalating violence.
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