Amos Harel in Haaretz notes a latest bit of curious behavior from thought-to-be-hardline Benjamin Netanyahu: under the new Israeli P.M., the pace of roadblock destruction in the West Bank has accelerated greatly. There are now 10 manned roadblocks in the entire territory; last year there were 35. And although the UN estimates well over 600 “obstacles and roadblocks” (presumably unmanned?), “the defense establishment has allowed several hundred Palestinian businessmen, holders of BMC (Businessman Card) permits, free access to Israel,” Harel reports. Residents in Jericho now have free and easy access to all of the West Bank, all of the roadblocks surrounding Nablus have been lifted, and, according to Israeli security services, the only Israeli cars being inspected at the Jaba roadblock at the Adam-La Ram junction.
All of these decisions have been undertaken with the express consent of Netanyahu, who has been signposting his willingness to do business with Barack Obama ever since the U.S. president’s Cairo speech, Harel notes. Elsewhere in Haaretz, meantime, is the news that Israel is currently discussing a settlement freeze with the United States. Netanyahu government’s position is that it should not last longer than six months and that building projects in progress in pre-existing settlements should be allowed to continue.