Israel okays 5,000 West Bank Palestinian work permits
JERUSALEM - Agence France-Presse
Palestinian farmer Basheer Habaybeh sorts freshly harvested sesame seeds at his field in the West Bank village of Sanour, near Jenin September 7, 2013. REUTERS PhotoThe Israeli government on Sunday approved the allocation of 5,000 work permits for Palestinians from the West Bank, enabling them to work in the Jewish state, an official told AFP.
"The initial resolution stated that it was within the framework of the peace negotiations with the Palestinians and efforts to improve the Palestinian economy," the official said on condition of anonymity.
"But several ministers opposed this phrasing, saying there was no reason to improve the Palestinian economy when the Palestinians don't miss an opportunity to back boycotts against Israel's economy," the official said.
The Israeli decision comes amid recently renewed direct peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians after a three-year stalemate.
Last month, Israel released 26 Palestinian prisoners in the first batch of some 104 long-term detainees who are to be freed in stages contingent on progress in the negotiations as a confidence-building gesture.
Since the start in 2000 of the second Palestinian uprising, or intifada, Israel has limited the number of permits it grants Palestinians to enter for work, medical treatment or other needs.
In addition to the newly approved 5,000 permits, nearly 70,000 Palestinians have permanent work permits for Israel, according to a defence official.