In light of the US president’s visit on Monday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has put forth a series of economic measures aimed at easing restrictions on Palestinians in the the West Bank in order to show alternative paths to peace. Of the proposed measures, permitting Palestinian construction in Area C will likely pose the most difficulties and may not receive cabinet approval.
Eased restrictions at Allenby Crossing? Photo Credit: Reuters/Channel 2 News
In anticipation of US President Donald Trump’s upcoming visit, the Israeli Prime Minister is planning a series of economic measures for the West Bank which include: establishing an industrial zone in Tarqumiyah and Jalameh, easing restrictions at the Allenby crossing, and permitting Palestinian construction in Area C.
The last measure mentioned above, construction in Area C, will be the most problematic part of Netanyahu’s plan. Such a move may not be approved by the political-security cabinet. Such a measure would involve building in calm areas for Palestinians who are not connected to terrorist activities.
It is believed that Israeli Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon and Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman will support this move and the prime minister. However, ministers from Ha-Bayit He-Yehudi and several from Likud will likely express opposition, so Netanyahu may have to invoke his second vote in the cabinet.
This past Wednesday, Kahlon met with his Palestinian counterpart, Shukri Bishara, for the first time to discuss promoting such economic projects. Netanyahu’s objective in proposing such measures is to prove to the US president that additional steps can be taken towards peace that do not include a construction freeze or settlement evacuation.
According to a source, the meeting took place after Palestinian officials appealed to the Minister of Regional Cooperation, Tzachi Hanegbi on the grounds that they find it difficult to advance such matters. Hanegbi reportedly turned to Minister Kahlon who immediately set up the meeting.