More Palestinian permits granted by Israel than Biden's visit

JERUSALEM -- Israel announced Tuesday that it will increase the number of Palestinians with work permits in the Gaza Strip and give legal status to thousands more Palestinians ahead of President Joe Biden's trip to the region later this month.

More Palestinian permits granted by Israel than Biden's visit

JERUSALEM -- Israel announced Tuesday that it will increase the number of Palestinians with work permits in the Gaza Strip and give legal status to thousands more Palestinians ahead of President Joe Biden's trip to the region later this month.

These moves are portrayed by Israel as confidence-building measures that aim to reduce tensions. Critics claim that they only reinforce Israel's 55-year-old military rule over millions Palestinians, in the absence any peace negotiations. More than a decade ago, the last serious peace negotiations broke down.

These latest measures were approved last week by Benny Gantz (defense minister), who met with Mahmoud Abubas, the Palestinian president, in the occupied West Bank to discuss coordination before Biden's visit. The Palestinian Authority of Abbas has limited control over West Bank areas and cooperates with Israel in security matters.

Israel will allow additional 5,500 Palestinians to be added the Palestinian population registry, which it effectively controls, so that they can obtain ID cards. Rights groups claim that thousands of Palestinians living in Gaza and West Bank lack this status, which makes them subject to severe restrictions on their movement.

Israel announced it would issue 1,500 more permits to Palestinian workers in Gaza for work in Israel. This is the highest number since Abbas' forces seized Gaza 15 years ago from Islamic militant group Hamas. Since then, Israel and Egypt have placed a severe blockade around Gaza.

Israel claims the blockade is necessary to prevent Hamas, which is opposed to its very existence, from arming themselves. Rights groups and Palestinians view the blockade to be a collective punishment for Gaza's 2,000,000 residents.

Six zoning plans have been approved by Israel for the West Bank. Israeli authorities restrict Palestinian construction within the 60% West Bank under Israeli control. They routinely demolish homes, and other structures that are not permitted by Israel. Authorities announced that they will open a new vehicle crossing in the northern West Bank.

The West Bank was captured by Israel in 1967 and the Palestinians want it as the core of their future state.

Biden's administration claims it supports a two-state solution. It has mostly stood by while Israel expanded its West Bank settlements. Nearly 500,000 Jewish settlers have special legal status and live in West Bank alongside 3 million Palestinians.

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