Sunday, March 30, 2008

'Israel pledges to remove 50 West Bank roadblocks'

Mar. 30, 2008

Israel and the Palestinians on Sunday agreed to a series of "concrete steps" aimed at paving the way for a final peace agreement later this year, beginning with a pledge to remove some 50 roadblocks in the West Bank, US officials said.

The officials, traveling with US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, also said the Palestinians had agreed to step up their efforts to "prevent terror" in the West Bank.

The US issued its statement after Rice met with Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salaam Fayad in Jerusalem. It said the two men had agreed on "concrete steps" to implement the road map. "This is a program that will improve the daily lives of Palestinians and help make Israel secure," the statement said.

It continued by saying Israel would remove about 50 roadblocks and take other immediate steps to speed up the movement of Palestinians through other West Bank travel barriers. It did not say which roadblocks would be removed, saying only that Israel would focus on "points of special immediate emphasis."

In its statement, the US said Barak and Fayad agreed Palestinian security forces in the West Bank must assume "greater responsibility."

The statement added the Palestinians would soon deploy additional security forces in the West Bank town of Jenin and "work to prevent terror."

Last week, Barak said he had agreed to let the Palestinians deploy some 600 Jordanian-trained officers in the West Bank town.

The statement also said the two sides agreed Sunday to take new steps to promote economic development in the West Bank.

Among the new measures are plans to build new housing for Palestinians in 25 villages, connecting Palestinian villages to the Israeli power grid and an agreement by Israel to allow larger numbers of Palestinian laborers and businessmen to work inside Israel.

"We all want to work hard for the improvements that can lead to a successful conclusion of the Annapolis process," said Rice at a press conference with Barak and Fayad following their meeting.

"We have just had a very good meeting. We are discussing the situation on the ground and the importance of improvement in that situation along the lines of one of the Annapolis tracks. I am pleased to say that the two gentlemen have met before I was here and they have said they will continue to meet as is necessary," continued the secretary of state.

1 comment:

primerprez said...

If the past is prologue, having the Palestinian Authority forces assume greater responsibility merely means that they will become even more involved in perpetuating terrorist attacks.