Israeli security sources reported on Tuesday that the Israeli army will start using alternative methods to protect the settlements in cases where roadblocks are removed.
The army announcement came after settlers from the settlement of Remonem located between the West Bank city of Ramallah and Jerusalem protested the Israeli government decision to remove roadblocks near their settlement. The settlers cited that removing those roadblocks will expose them to attacks by the Palestinian resistance groups. During a three party meeting between Condoleezza Rice, Palestinian and Israeli negotiators in Jerusalem on Sunday, the Israelis and Palestinians agreed to a series of steps to ease Palestinian civilian life in the West Bank. Among those steps, Israel promised to remove 50 roadblocks that the Israeli army had installed in the West Bank. The Israeli army checkpoints and roadblocks directly affect the Palestinian economy and freedom of movement. It is not unheard of for a Palestinian resident or truck loaded with products to take nearly two hours to travel a few miles in the West Bank.
Sarit Michaeli, from the Israeli human Right group, Bt'Selem, told IMEMC that these latest concessions from Israel will not provide much relief for the Palestinians: "from our past experience they remove roadblocks that have been already kind of eroded or that Palestinians have found ways around or they remove many roadblocks in one region which do not make much deference, or in some cases the army reported that they removed roadblocks that had already removed months earlier." Michaeli said.
Although some 50 road blocks will be removed by Israel, the more than 500 others dividing the West Bank into 64 areas will remain in place. The roadblock removal agreement was part of an 18-point package presented by Ehud Barak, the Israeli Defense Minister, to Rice, the U-S Secretary of State, and Salam Fayyad, the Palestinian Prime Minister. The Israeli official gave no timetable for implementation.