(AFP) – Sep 16, 2009
JERUSALEM — Israel has started removing 100 of its roadblocks in the West Bank as part of efforts to improve the economic situation in the Palestinian territory, the military announced on Wednesday.
The armed forces would not say how many roadblocks will remain but recent UN figures put at more than 600 the number of such obstacles that restrict the movement of Palestinian people and goods in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.
"Today, following the directives given by the Israeli government, the Israel Defense Forces began removing 100 roadblocks," the military said in a statement.
It said the process should be completed by the time Muslims celebrate the end of the fasting month of Ramadan next week.
Israeli officials have long argued the heavy restrictions are essential to prevent violent attacks but say they have been eased in recent months as part of hawkish Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's much-vaunted plan for "economic peace."
The International Monetary Fund said earlier this month that continuation of new economic growth in the West Bank will depend on Israel lifting more restrictions, which international organisations say have stymied private sector investment in the Palestinian territory for almost a decade.
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