Barak: Too early to lift checkpoints

However, defense minister says Israel facilitating new industrial zones to create jobs for Palestinians.

Israel will begin making life easier for West Bank Palestinians but won't remove checkpoints for now, Defense Minister Ehud Barak said on Monday. According to Barak, who was visiting the Tarkumiyeh checkpoint, Israel is working on making crossing through checkpoints easier. He stressed that Israel was facilitating new industrial zones meant to create thousands of jobs for Palestinians. The moves are part of efforts to boost Palestinian moderates. Still, Barak said it was "too early" to say whether Israel can take down the checkpoints. During the visit, Barak also voiced his concern regarding the end of the mourning period for slain Hizbullah terror chief Imad Mugniyeh. He urged Israelis to "open their eyes." According to Barak, "The security establishment is on alert as we are at a time of increased threats." Hizbullah will mark the end of the 40-day mourning period in a mass rally in Beirut on Monday afternoon. Meanwhile, the IDF lifted the closure imposed on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip before Purim. The army said that the move was decided upon after a security consultation and in accordance with the decision of the political echelon.