IDF: Palestinian travel ban postponed

Restrictions will ban W. Bank Arabs from traveling in cars with Israeli plates.

checkpoint kalandia 298. (photo credit: )
checkpoint kalandia 298.
(photo credit: )
The IDF on Wednesday postponed its latest restriction on Palestinian movement - a ban on Palestinians riding in cars with Israeli license plates in the West Bank. The army said OC Central Command Maj.-Gen. Yair Naveh had postponed the restrictions "until further evaluation." It gave no reason for the decision, but said "an update will be issued with the new date of the implementation of the regulations." The decision was announced two days before the restrictions were to go into effect. The army had cited security reasons for the ban, saying that some of the suicide bombers who have entered Israel in recent years were transported by Israeli citizens - for the most part, Israeli Arabs - whose Israeli license plates allow them to cross army roadblocks without being checked. But human rights groups said the order was part of a wider, discriminatory Israeli scheme to create separate road systems for Israeli settlers and Palestinians in the West Bank. On January 1, Naveh ordered the Judea and Samaria Division to begin easing restrictions throughout the West Bank in conjunction with a program - agreed upon during a recent meeting between Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas - to ease checkpoint conditions for Palestinians and improve their freedom of movement. Security officials said that the program would be implemented gradually and that the next stage would be the removal of 27 roadblocks, as promised by Olmert last week. Olmert discussed the freedom of movement issue with US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice at their meeting on Monday. On Tuesday, Olmert toured several West Bank crossing points and was told by IDF officials that since he met with Abbas, 44 roadblocks - out of a total of 144 - were lifted in the West Bank, and that more Palestinian laborers and merchandise were being allowed into Israel. The plan for removing the roadblocks was originally proposed by Deputy Defense Minister Ephraim Sneh in a meeting with Defense Minister Amir Peretz last week. Peretz initially wanted to remove 59 roadblocks, but Naveh voiced strong objection to the plan, saying it would impair the IDF's ability to thwart terror attacks. Peretz consequently urged that the plan be implemented in areas where removing roadblocks would not pose a danger.