Blair announces Israeli and Palestinian security deal

13 May 2008
Tony Blair, Middle East peace envoy for the Quartet has unveiled a new security and economic deal between the Israelis and Palestinians, designed to improve business prospects in the West Bank.

The former UK prime minister has announced plans for Israel to remove four military checkpoints in the West Bank and give the Palestinian Authority (PA) greater responsibility for security around the northern city of Jenin, where a new industrial park is to be built.

Blair is eager to put a new security deal in place ahead of the Palestine Investment Conference on 21-23 May, at which foreign businesses will be encouraged to invest in the Palestinian economy.

Blair said one checkpoint near the West Bank city of Hebron will be removed in May, and three others, including one near Ramallah, removed or relocated “once Israel determines the security situation so allows”.

The arrangement on checkpoints is set to arouse scepticism among Palestinians, who continue to live under severe restrictions on movement. There are about 600 checkpoints or barriers in the West Bank, and a previous deal to remove about 50 of them resulted in Israel making minimal concessions, in some cases building new obstacles and then removing them.

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