Ma'an News Agency
November 16, 2009 - 1:00am

Israeli soldiers manning new USAID-funded military checkpoint held up a convoy of US Consulate vehicles for several hours on Sunday, the Hebrew-language daily newspaper Maariv reported.

The incident was apparently sparked when the diplomats refused to submit to a search, which Israeli soldiers were demanding at the new Jalamah crossing, which opened this week.

Soldiers shut down the crossing, causing a major traffic buildup, while senior officials from the Israeli Defense Ministry and local police were summoned over the incident, Maariv reported, adding that the Americans had refused to identify themselves.

According to the newspaper, the soldiers guarding the checkpoint attempted to explain that they wanted only to search the Palestinian drivers, but all parties continued to refuse on principle until the US Embassy in Tel Aviv convinced their colleagues to show ID.

One of the soldiers was quoted as describing the incident as "the latest provocation from staffers at the consulate, where Palestinians working as drivers refuse to be searched," while "we want to make sure everyone is holding diplomatic passports - an issue that can't be sorted out by looking in, since cars belonging to the US Consulate have tinted windows."

The incident caused long delays for Palestinians inside Israel en route to Jenin, the newspaper reported.


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