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Last Updated: Wednesday, 27 June 2007, 13:26 GMT 14:26 UK
Israel urged to leave checkpoints
Palestinians walk through Hawara checkpoint, south of Nablus
Checkpoints and roadblocks disrupt the lives of millions of Palestinians
Israeli peace activists are calling for dozens of military checkpoints and hundreds of unmanned roadblocks to be dismantled in the occupied West Bank.

Peace Now said if Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was serious about negotiations with the Palestinians, he should begin by removing the internal obstacles.

A spokeswoman said such controls were unnecessary for securing Israel and would improve Palestinian daily life.

The call applies to 58 manned barriers and almost all the 467 roadblocks.

Peace Now says only 35 checkpoints can be justified as controlling access between Israel and the West Bank, which has been under Israeli occupation since 1967.

WEST BANK RESTRICTIONS
Checkpoints to Israel (manned): 35
Internal West Bank checkpoints (manned): 58
Permanent unmanned roadblocks: 467
Source: Peace Now
The permanent roadblocks established by the army included gates, earth mounds and cement blocks.

They restrict the freedom of movement for the majority of Palestinians and turn short journeys into lengthy trips which involve waiting periods at each checkpoint, the group says.

Trips between Palestinian cities in the West Bank which used to take just one hour can now take three times that because of delays at checkpoints, the group says.

It adds that for the Israeli soldiers manning checkpoints there are dangers from coming into close contact with the Palestinian population, increasing the risk of suicide attacks.

The Israel government defends its travel restrictions as being necessary to prevent such attacks on Israel and Jewish settlements in the West Bank.

The settlements are illegal in the eyes of international law, although Israel disputes its jurisdiction.


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