Reporters on the Job

Crossing Over: A few months after the Palestinian intifada - or uprising - began in 2000, Israeli soldiers set up a temporary checkpoint on the main road between the West Bank city of Ramallah and Jerusalem.

As soldiers stopped cars to search for suicide bombers, the Qalandia checkpoint became notorious for traffic jams. "Palestinians - and journalists - trying to drive into Jerusalem had to factor in an extra hour or two to get through," says correspondent Joshua Mitnick.

To avoid the delay, Josh, like most journalists, would park his car on the Israeli side of the check point, walk through, and catch a cab on the other side and reverse the process on the way back.

But during his reporting trip to Ramallah for today's story about the sagging Palestinian economy, Josh found that there were no delays - at least not for him.

As of April 3, the Qalandia checkpoint has become, in practice, a border crossing. Now, there are new lanes for cars and a permanent building for processing pedestrians.

"There are now separate lanes for Palestinians from the West Bank and Palestinians with entry permits or Jerusalem IDs. My interpreter and I were able to drive out without delay for the first time in years. But the delay remains for most West Bank Palestinians," says Josh.

"Palestinians are quite ambivalent about this new facility, because it's seen as part of Israel creating a permanent border. Israel sees it as streamlining the passage and improving security [a barrier runs for miles in either direction] but Palestinians see it as a new fact on the ground," says Josh.

David Clark Scott
World editor

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