Prior to Terror Wave, Israeli Military Recommended Easing Restrictions on Palestinians

The series of measures included the release of Palestinian prisoners and giving weapons to Palestinian security forces; defense officials now believe the recommendations can only be applied if the violence subsides.

Gili Cohen
Gili Cohen
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Palestinian cars at the Qalandiyah checkpoint.
Palestinian cars at the Qalandiyah checkpoint.Credit: AP
Gili Cohen
Gili Cohen

Israel's defense establishment had devised a series of recommendations meant to ease the situation in the Palestinian territories, but now believes the measures can only be applied once the current round of violence subsides. The recommendations included giving additional weapons to the Palestinian security forces, releasing prisoners and increasing the number of work permits granted to laborers.

The list of recommendations was put together by the General Staff of the Israel Defense Forces prior to the escalation in violence last month, and was submitted to the government.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Tuesday that Israel will not take any of the steps the Palestinian Authority wants to see in the West Bank until the level of violence has declined.

“The first condition for changing the security and economic conditions on the ground is restoring the quiet,” a senior Israeli official quoted Netanyahu as telling the visiting secretary of state.

During the meeting, the prime minister toughened up his stance and in effect backtracked on his willingness to take steps in the West Bank regardless of the security situation as he proposed during his visit to Washington about two weeks ago.

The IDF recommended easing restrictions vis-à-vis security, economy and construction.

The military proposed approving requests made by the Palestinian Authority for armored vehicles, weapons (primarily light arms including Kalashnikov and M16 rifles) and ammunition. It further recommended releasing Palestinian security prisoners who have been jailed in Israel for decades, and who the military had previously said should be released.

Moreover, the IDF believes that the eligibility criteria for work permits should be overhauled, significantly increasing the number of Palestinians authorized to work in Israel. The recommendations included reducing the minimum age required to qualify for a permit, and changing the system in a way that would allow Palestinians who have undergone a Shin Bet security check to be placed in a worker database.

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