Last updated: 15 October, 2012

Israel eases Jordan Valley travel ban

Israel said Monday it has lifted a ban on Palestinian travel between the Jordan Valley and the rest of the West Bank which an Israeli rights group says had made lives of local residents miserable.

“About two weeks ago all the checkpoints between the Judaea and Samaria area and the Jordan valley were opened to Palestinian traffic,” Israeli defence ministry said in a written response to an AFP query, adding that passage would be subject to usual security checks and situation reports.

The Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) said earlier that previously only registered Palestinian residents of the valley, which runs along the West Bank’s eastern flank, had been allowed through military checkpoints at the entrance to the sector.

“These travel restrictions embittered the lives of tens of thousands of people, mostly residents of the Jordan Valley and of the villages on the abutting ridge,” the group said.

Such restrictions had “substantially raised the prices of essential goods and services for the valley residents, most of whom live in small villages without proper infrastructure,” ACRI said.

They had also “hampered the movement of goods between the West Bank and the Jordan Valley, and between the West Bank and its only international border — with Jordan.”

The southern stretch of the Jordan Valley is designated as Area C, a sector of the West Bank which is under full Israeli civilian and security control.