INDEPENDENT NEWS

Cablegate: Some Positive Changes to Nablus Access And

Published: Fri 19 Dec 2008 04:30 PM
VZCZCXRO1048
PP RUEHROV
DE RUEHJM #2275/01 3541630
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 191630Z DEC 08
FM AMCONSUL JERUSALEM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 3561
INFO RUEHXK/ARAB ISRAELI COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 4435
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHDC PRIORITY
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 JERUSALEM 002275
SIPDIS
SENSITIVE
NEA FOR FRONT OFFICE AND NEA/IPA; NSC FOR PASCUAL; TREASURY
FOR AHERN
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ECON PREL PGOV KWBG ETRD IS
SUBJECT: SOME POSITIVE CHANGES TO NABLUS ACCESS AND
MOVEMENT REMAIN FOLLOWING EID AL-ADHA
REF: TEL AVIV 2744
1. (SBU) Summary: Since the GOI's announcement of eased
access and movement restrictions for the Eid al-Adha holiday
(reftel), Nablus businessmen say the most important change
has been that permits are no longer required for private
vehicles and pedestrians to enter Nablus via Beit Iba and
Huwarra checkpoints. In addition, businessmen are pleased
that commercial vehicles exiting Nablus to the south, through
Awarta, need no longer transfer cargoes back-to-back or have
permits to cross the checkpoint. Business contacts claim
that the hours at a number of checkpoints have been extended.
Nablus Chamber of Commerce members credit the checkpoint
upgrades to U.S. and international pressure on the GOI, but
say the changes are only "minor improvements" to what they
still call the "siege" of the city. End Summary.
Some Easing of Restrictions Still in Effect
-------------------------------------------
2. (SBU) On December 18, EconOff visited Nablus area
checkpoints and met with USAID contractors and local
businessmen to verify changes in access and movement
restrictions in and around Nablus following the Eid al-Adha
holiday in the second week of December. Some of the changes
announced for Eid (including access to Nablus for Arab
Israelis, and permission for males 50 and older to exit
without a permit) are no longer in effect. However, some
procedural changes remain in place.
3. (SBU) Nablus businessmen told EconOff that the most
important change is that permits for personal vehicles and
pedestrians are no longer required when entering Nablus
through Huwarra and Beit Iba checkpoints. However, vehicles
that enter without a permit must take a longer way out of the
city, through Asira as-Shamalia to the north. They also
noted that commercial vehicles passing through Nablus'
southern commercial checkpoint (Awarta) are no longer
required to perform back-to-back transfers and do not need
permits. EconOff and USAID contractors visited all three
checkpoints and verified these changes on December 18.
Other Checkpoint Changes
------------------------
4. (SBU) EconOff and USAID contractors also verified the
following changes at Nablus area checkpoints:
-- Huwarra (main checkpoint south of Nablus for POVs and
pedestrians): There is an expanded pedestrian area, a second
pedestrian checkpoint lane, and an expanded parking space for
taxis.
-- Awarta (checkpoint south of Nablus for commercial/VIP
vehicles): VIPs can exit if they are using their own vehicle
and possess the necessary permit. On December 18, EconOff
monitored VIPs passing through Awarta with an average wait
time of a minute each.
-- Beit Furik (checkpoint east of Nablus that connects the
city to local villages): Pedestrian traffic has been halted,
but vehicle traffic moves freely in both directions between
Nablus and the neighboring villages of Beit Furik and Beit
Dajan. Given the changes, there are no longer taxis parked
on either side of the checkpoint waiting for passengers.
Palestinian-registered vehicles, however, remain prohibited
from traveling south toward Ramallah.
-- Beit Iba (main checkpoint for commercial and private
vehicles, and pedestrian traffic to the west of Nablus and
the main commercial route toward Israel): No change other
than the fact that permits are no longer required to enter
Nablus.
An "Improvement, Not a Solution"
--------------------------------
4. (SBU) Despite the recent changes, Nablus businessmen
report the checkpoint regime around the city remains an acute
source of contention. One rhetorically asked how he could
celebrate the upgrades at Huwarra when such "improvements"
suggest GOI intentions to maintain the checkpoint
indefinitely. Other businessmen expressed confusion at some
of the new changes, questioning why the GOI no longer
requires permits for commercial vehicles at Awarta but
JERUSALEM 00002275 002 OF 002
continues to do so at Beit Iba, and why Arab Israelis were
only allowed into Nablus during the Eid. Our contacts
consistently claim that the city's population and economy are
shrinking as people and businesses move to surrounding areas
that enjoy better access to the rest of the West Bank.
MARCHESE
View as: DESKTOP | MOBILE © Scoop Media