Easing up on West Bank,IDF removes checkpoints

1,500 Palestinians granted easier entry to Israel.

idf checkpoint 298.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
idf checkpoint 298.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
The IDF dismantled two checkpoints around Ramallah on Wednesday and granted 1,500 Palestinian businesspeople easier access to Israel, as part of a series of measures aimed at improving the quality of life of Palestinians in the West Bank. A checkpoint outside Nablus will be also manned by soldiers for 24 hours, to allow Palestinians to pass through the area at any time. On Tuesday, a meeting between senior Israeli and Palestinian security officials was held to discuss the security and civilian aspects of the checkpoint removals. Participants included OC Central Command Maj.-Gen. Gadi Shamni, Judea and Samaria Division Commander Brig.-Gen. Noam Tivon, and Civil Administration head Brig.-Gen. Yoav Mordechai. They met with Palestinian security chiefs, and with Hasin al-Sih, head of civil affairs for the Palestinian Authority. The army said the meeting was held in a "good and comfortable atmosphere and both sides agreed on a continuation of dialogue in the near future." Following the meeting, the Rimonim checkpoint, situated east of Ramallah, which links the city to the Jordan Valley, and the Bir Zeit checkpoint, situated north of Ramallah, which links the city to the northern villages on its outskirts, were removed. The IDF said in a statement that the removals "increase the freedom of movement for the Palestinian population," adding that "140 checkpoints were removed over the past year to allow movement across Judea and Samaria for the civilian population." The easing of movement for Palestinian businesspeople will "significantly improve the quality of life for these people, who stimulate the economy in the Judea and Samaria area," the army added. The move was slammed by settlers, who described it as a dangerous measure that would jeopardize lives in the area. The Binyamin Citizen's Committee accused Defense Minister Ehud Barak of "carrying on with the policy of playing Russian roulette with the lives of the Jewish settlers," adding, "It's a shame that [Prime Minister Binyamin] Netanyahu continues to pay no heed to the radical leftist policies that Barak is enacting."