Analysis / W. Bank Roadblocks Come and Go

The restrictions on Palestinian traffic in the West Bank, which were removed during the disengagement talks, were reinstated once the pullout was carried out.

More than a year ago the defense establishment formulated a proposal for two separate transportation systems in the West Bank - main, new thoroughfares for Israelis and old back roads for the Palestinians.

With dozens of barricades and permanent roadblocks, the Israel Defense Forces had diverted Palestinian traffic to side roads since the intifada broke out. The IDF also blocked Palestinian traffic occasionally with mobile roadblocks.

Israel asked the donor states to finance the separate transportation plan by building and upgrading some 500 kilometers of roads and 16 intersections. The plan was presented as a solution to the closure problem in the West Bank, which the World Bank found to be the main cause for its economic deterioration. Israel presented the plan as creating "traffic contiguity" for the Palestinians.

The Palestinian Planning Ministry and donor states estimated the plan's cost at some $200 million. But the donor states said they would carry out no project against the Palestinians' will. In October 2004 the Palestinian cabinet adopted a resolution against the Israeli proposal, which it saw as a means to strengthen the settlements and legitimize "an apartheid regime."

The donor states indirectly conditioned their cooperation with the disengagement plan on alleviating the closure in the West Bank.

Consequently, certain roadblocks were removed, and Palestinian traffic was allowed on Road 60 from Hebron to Bethlehem and from Tul Karm to Jenin and Ramallah, albeit on winding, bad roads.

On the other hand, the IDF increased the traffic restrictions in southern Hebron and is preventing passage between the towns and villages of the southern West Bank to Hebron by means of roadblocks, iron gates and blockades.

Many roads near settlements are closed to Palestinians, and the IDF frequently blocks the roads they may use with mobile roadblocks, causing long delays.

In addition, traffic in the western West Bank is restricted mainly by the separation fence. The Modi'in-Givat Ze'ev road is prohibited to Palestinians, cutting off the villages on the south from those on the north of the road, and various restrictions keep Palestinians from accessing the Jordan Valley.