Israel allows Palestinians on highway 443 to Ramallah – but blocks the exit
After a landmark court ruling, Israel's army today allowed Palestinians access to Road 443 for the first time in eight years. But they are still barred from using the road to get to Ramallah and Jerusalem – a 'farce' of the ruling, said one activist.
(Page 3 of 3)
Some say the modest recovery – economic growth in the West Bank in 2009 was close to 10 percent – can be linked to a reluctance among the public to embark on a new uprising against Israel. According a March survey by the Palestinian Center for Public Opinion, 72 percent oppose a new intifada.Skip to next paragraph
In Pictures The Israeli separation barrier: A West Bank wall
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
"Parallel to the talks, the positive traction of changing realities on the ground should continue,'' wrote Gilead Sher, a former peace negotiator, in the Palestinian-Israeli online forum Bitterlemons.org. "Israelis and Palestinians need to prime their constituencies and prepare the ground for acceptable and legitimate compromise. We need to gradually ready the hearts and minds of our publics for transformation.''
Ceramic tile dealer hopes Israelis bargain hunters will return
But the hearts and minds of officials on both sides have yet to be won.
Asked about the effect of the Israeli gestures announced this week on the lives of everyday Palestinians, the Palestinian Authority's Economic Minister Hassan Abu Libdeh told the Monitor that the list of measures could positively affect business activity. But he dismissed the importance of Israel removing the 60 barriers, referring to them as "piles of dirt.'' Mr. Abu Libdeh says he has doubts about whether the government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will make good on the gesture.
Some Palestinians remain optimistic about the opening, however. Samir El Oury, whose ceramic tile dealership saw a 70 percent drop-off in sales with the closing of 443, he says the opening of the access roads will encourage the return Israeli bargain hunters who once frequented Beit Ghur a-Tahta to buy food and other merchandise.
"Work will pick up,'' he says. "Israeli citizens don't like the prices inside of Israel, and they will now have access to the village.''
Other villagers interviewed several days before the opening said they would wait to see how easy passage is through the checkpoint before judging.
"Let's see what happens after it opens. If the checkpoints are easy then it will be a good development,'' says Mohammed Aiyseh, a taxi van driver who ferries passengers from Ramallah to the villages along 443 via back roads. "If [checkpoints] will be difficult, I will take the old roads. I hope there will be progress in our life, but it doesn't seem so.''
- Political coup? Israel welcomed into OECD despite criticism over Gaza, settlements.
- West Bank settlements become havens of Israeli surburbanites
- Full Israel news coverage