The Israeli army is expected to ease security restrictions in the West Bank starting from Monday, as part of an agreement with the Palestinians.
The relaxations include removal of barriers between roads connecting West Bank villages, and easing security checks at road blocks, the Israeli daily Haaretz reported.
Also, Israeli Defense Minister Amir Peretz is allowing Palestinian Christians in Gaza to visit holy sites in the West Bank. Israeli Arabs will be permitted to visit relatives in the Palestinian territories, where most Israelis are usually barred from entering.
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert decided not to release prisoners ahead of the Muslim festival ‘Id Al-Ad’ha, which began this weekend.
Olmert said he would not release prisoners until Israeli soldier Cpl. Gilad Shalit was released by Palestinian armed groups.
Shalit has been held for more than six months, presumably in Gaza, after being abducted on the Gaza border in June.
Easing restrictions in the West Bank is in keeping with an Israeli decision to handle the West Bank and Gaza separately, an Israeli security source told Haaretz. Therefore, the continuing firing of rockets from Gaza Strip into Israel would not cause a suspension of security relaxations in the West Bank.
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