Ma'an News Agency
June 17, 2010 - 12:00am

A senior UN official said Israel has dismantled 20 percent of its West Bank checkpoints in the past year, according to the Associated Press.

Philippe Lazzarini, head of the UN humanitarian affairs office in Jerusalem, said Israel has removed 121 checkpoints, easing Palestinian movement between villages and towns, but 505 checkpoints and dozens of road obstacles still hinder travel, AP reported.

Israel has said it has removed dozens of roadblocks.

Lazzarini said Wednesday that Israeli officials were also limiting Palestinian access to lands in the Jordan River valley and to farmlands cut off by Israel's separation wall that snakes into land inside the 1967 armistice line.

At the end of May, the Israeli army said it would relieve some of the restrictions placed upon travel in the West Bank, after meeting with Palestinian Authority officials, a statement read.

The apparent "good will gestures" include the entry of Palestinians with Israeli citizenship and ID cards through all checkpoints into the West Bank, and Tulkarem via the 104 checkpoint at weekends, an ease on travel for Palestinian businessmen and women, and the removal of several roadblocks.

Israel maintains military checkpoints throughout the West Bank, both internally and into Israel. Palestinians with West Bank ID cards are barred from entering East Jerusalem without permits and many face hour-long queues to cross into another West Bank district.

In addition, the Israeli army mounts ad hoc "flying" checkpoints, without prior notice.


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