Israel issues more permits to Palestinians ahead of Biden visit

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Israel said on Tuesday this will increase the number of work permits issued to Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and allow thousands more Palestinians to obtain legal status ahead of President Joe Biden’s visit to the region later this week.

Israel portrays such moves as confidence-building measures aimed at reducing tensions. Critics say they are simply perpetuating their 55-year military rule over millions of Palestinians in the absence of any peace process. The last serious peace talks broke down more than a decade ago.

The latest measures were endorsed by Defense Minister Benny Gantz, who last week met with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the occupied West Bank to discuss coordination before Biden’s visit. The Abbas Palestinian Authority has limited authority over parts of the West Bank and is cooperating with Israel on security issues.

Israel will allow another 5,500 Palestinians to be added to the registry of the Palestinian population, which it effectively controls, so that they can obtain identification cards. Human rights groups say tens of thousands of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza lack this status, forcing them to live under severe restrictions on movement.

OIL, IRAN AND NORMALIZATION HIGH ON THE AGENDA AS BIDEN LEAVES TRIP TO ISRAEL AND SAUDI ARABIA

Israel said it would issue 1,500 more permits to Palestinian workers in Gaza to work in Israel, bringing the total to 15,500, the highest number since the Islamic paramilitary group Hamas seized power in Gaza from Abbas’s forces 15 years ago. . Israel and Egypt since then, a tight blockade of Gaza has been imposed.

U.S. flags flutter against the backdrop of the Dome of the Rock ahead of President Joe Biden's visit to Jerusalem on Tuesday, July 12, 2022.

U.S. flags flutter against the backdrop of the Dome of the Rock ahead of President Joe Biden’s visit to Jerusalem on Tuesday, July 12, 2022.
((AP Photo/Mahmoud Illean))

Israel says the blockade is necessary to keep Hamas, which opposes its very existence, from arming itself. Palestinians and rights groups see the blockade as a form of collective punishment for the two million Palestinian population of Gaza.

BIDEN POINTS IMPORTANCE TO SAUDI ‘ENERGY RESOURCES’ DESPITE STATEMENTS HE WON’T ASK FOR MORE OIL

Israel has also approved six West Bank zoning plans. Israeli authorities severely restrict Palestinian construction in the 60% of the West Bank, which is under full Israeli control, and regularly demolish houses and other structures built without Israeli permission, which is difficult to obtain. The authorities also said they would open a new road crossing in the northern West Bank.

Palestinian workers enter Israel after crossing from Gaza on the Israeli side of the Erez crossing between Israel and the Gaza Strip in March.  27, 2022.

Palestinian workers enter Israel after crossing from Gaza on the Israeli side of the Erez crossing between Israel and the Gaza Strip in March. 27, 2022.
((Photo by AP/Oded Balilti, file))

Israel took over the West Bank in the 1967 war, and the Palestinians want it to be a core part of their future state.

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Biden administration says it supports a possible two-state solution. But he has mostly stood by as Israel expands its settlements in the West Bank, where some 500,000 Jewish settlers with special legal status live alongside some 3 million Palestinians.