JERUSALEM ( Associated Press) – Israel said Tuesday it will increase the number of work permits for Palestinians in the Gaza Strip to allow thousands of Palestinians to gain legal status before U.S. President Joe Biden visits the region later in the year. day.
Israel refers to these types of actions as confidence-building measures and reducing tensions. His critics say he is simply consolidating his 55-year military rule over millions of Palestinians in the absence of a peace process. The last serious negotiations failed more than a decade ago.
The latest measures were approved by Defense Minister Benny Gantz, who met Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank last week to discuss coordination efforts ahead of Biden’s visit. The Abbas government has limited authority over certain parts of the West Bank and cooperates with Israel on security matters.
Israel will allow an additional 5,500 Palestinians to join the Palestinian population register, which it controls, so they can obtain identification credentials. Human rights groups say tens of thousands of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza do not have that status, forcing them to live with severe restrictions on movement.
Israel announced it would issue 1,500 more permits for Palestinians in Gaza to work inside Israel, bringing the total to 15,500, the highest number since the extremist group Hamas took power in Gaza 15 years ago. Since then, Israel and Egypt have imposed a crippling blockade on Gaza.
Israel says the blockade is necessary to prevent Hamas, which opposes its existence, from obtaining weapons. Palestinians and human rights groups say the blockade is a form of collective punishment for the 2 million Palestinians residing in Gaza.