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Cablegate: Removal of 47 Roadblocks; Palestinians Dismiss

VZCZCXRO0250
OO RUEHROV
DE RUEHJM #0565 0921535
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 011535Z APR 08
FM AMCONSUL JERUSALEM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 1061
INFO RUEHXK/ARAB ISRAELI COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS PRIORITY

UNCLAS JERUSALEM 000565

SIPDIS

SIPDIS
SENSITIVE

NEA FOR FRONT OFFICE, NSC FOR ABRAMS/SINGH/WATERS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KWBG PREL PHUM ECON IS
SUBJECT: REMOVAL OF 47 ROADBLOCKS; PALESTINIANS DISMISS
CHANGES AS UNIMPORTANT OR ILLUSORY


1. (SBU) Summary: According to the PA office of Civil
Affairs, the GOI Civil Administration informed the PA that 47
obstacles in the West Bank (mostly dirt mounds blocking local
road access onto highways) have been or will be removed. PA
contacts say the list includes the Taybeh checkpoint between
Ramallah and Jericho. PM Salam Fayyad told press the impact
of the removed obstacle is a positive, but marginal step.
End Summary.

Israeli Civil Administration:
We're Removing 47 Obstacles
----------------------------

2. (SBU) According to the PA office of Civil Affairs, the
GOI Civil Administration informed the PA on March 30 that the
IDF has removed or will remove 47 obstacles to movement in
the West Bank, mostly dirt mounds blocking local road access
onto highways. The 47 include 4 near Jenin, 22 near
Qalqiliya, 11 near Nablus and 10 near Jericho. The Civil
Administration told the PA it will provide a map in the next
48 hours detailing the locations of the obstacles removed,
including photos. (Note: ConGen will follow up to assess the
impact of removing these specific obstacles. End Note).

3. (SBU) PA Civil Affairs contacts told ConGen Political
Specialist that the Civil Administration said the IDF will
remove the Taybeh checkpoint (also called Rimonim or Carmelo)
and the Dead Sea checkpoint near the junction of Routes 1 and
90, but thereafter told the PA that the Dead Sea checkpoint
will remain in place. (Note: the Dead Sea checkpoint
consists of temporary fixtures/barriers, but is manned by
border police most of the time to block Palestinians from
reaching the Dead Sea. According to PA security contacts,
Israeli security personnel operated the checkpoint on April
1. End note). PA contacts said the IDF did not have
security personnel at Taybeh checkpoint March 31 or April 1,
but the checkpoint infrastructure remained in place. (Note:
Previously, Taybeh was only occasionally manned by the IDF.
If it remains open full-time and if it is not effectively
replaced by "flying checkpoints," it will ease access between
Jericho and Ramallah. End note).

Palestinians Largely Dismiss Steps
----------------------------------

4. (SBU) In comments to Palestinian press, PM Salam Fayyad
downplayed the impact of the removed obstacles, calling it a
"very small step, which while we don't reject does not
accomplish lifting all the roadblocks which seriously hinder
movement throughout the West Bank." PA Civil Affairs chief
Hussayn al-Shaykh told Palestinian newspapers March 31 that
the GOI action was "useless" and does not include removal of
any major checkpoints. PLO Secretary-General Yasser Abd
Rabbo commented to the Consul General on March 31 that
"moving 47 piles of dirt" in the West Bank will have minimal
impact on movement or public opinion. PA National Security
Forces (NSF) contacts report that the IDF photographed
removal of dirt mounds the IDF had just placed near Tulkarm a
few days before and alleged to ConGen that many of the
obstacle removals were more showmanship than substance.
WALLES

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