Middle East

Israel pledges to ease Jordan Valley travel ban

In this Tuesday, Oct. 9, 2012 photo, Palestinian workers wait to cross to Israel at the Qalandia checkpoint, between Ramallah and Jerusalem. (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)

JERUSALEM: Israeli defence officials have pledged to lift a ban on Palestinian travel between the Jordan Valley and the rest of the West Bank, an Israeli rights group said on Monday.

The Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) said that in response to its requests, the military had decided to ease rules under which only registered Palestinian residents of the valley, which runs along the West Bank's eastern flank, can pass through military checkpoints at the entrance to the sector.

"These travel restrictions embittered the lives of tens of thousands of people, mostly residents of the Jordan Valley and of the villages on the abutting ridge," ACRI said in a statement.

Such restrictions had "substantially raised the prices of essential goods and services for the valley residents, most of whom live in small villages without proper infrastructure," it said.

They had also "hampered the movement of goods between the West Bank and the Jordan Valley, and between the West Bank and its only international border -- with Jordan."

ACRI also distributed a copy of the letter it had received from the defence ministry.

"It has been decided to allow movement without restrictions, subject to the usual security inspections, at all crossings between the Judaea and Samaria (West Bank) area and the valley," it said.

The ministry could not immediately be reached for comment.

The southern stretch of the Jordan Valley is designated as Area C, a sector of the West Bank which is under full Israeli civilian and security control.





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