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Israel said Tuesday it would increase the number of work permits issued to Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and allow thousands of Palestinians to obtain legal status ahead of President Joe Biden’s visit to the region later this week.

Israel describes these moves as confidence-building measures aimed at reducing tensions. Critics say they are merely bolstering his 55 years of military rule over millions of Palestinians in the absence of any peace process. The last serious peace talks broke down more than a decade ago.

The latest measures were approved by Defense Minister Benny Gantz, who met with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the occupied West Bank last week to discuss coordination ahead of Biden’s visit. The Abbas Palestinian Authority has limited government over parts of the West Bank and cooperates with Israel on security matters.

Israel will allow an additional 5,500 Palestinians to be added to the Palestinian population register, which it effectively monitors, so that they can obtain identity cards. Human rights groups say tens of thousands of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza do not have that status, forcing them to live under severe movement restrictions.

PETROLEUM, IRAN AND NORMALIZATION IN THE FOREGROUND ON THE AGENDA WHEN BIDEN STARTS ON A TRIP TO ISRAEL AND SAUDI ARABIA

Israel said it will grant an additional 1,500 permits to Palestinian workers in Gaza to work inside Israel, bringing the total number to 15,500 – the highest since Islamic militant group Hamas took power in Gaza from Abbas forces 15 years. does. Israel and Egypt have since imposed a crippling blockade on Gaza.

With the Dome of the Rock shrine in the background, U.S. flags fly ahead of President Joe Biden’s visit to Jerusalem on Tuesday, July 12, 2022.
((Photo AP / Mahmoud Illean))

Israel says the blockade is necessary to prevent Hamas – which opposes its very existence – from arming itself. Palestinians and human rights groups see the blockade as a form of collective punishment of the 2 million Palestinians residing in Gaza.

BIDEN POINTS ON THE IMPORTANCE OF SAUDI “ENERGY RESOURCES” DESPITE HAVING SAID THAT IT WILL NO LONGER ASK FOR OIL

Israel has also approved six zoning plans for the West Bank. Israeli authorities severely restrict Palestinian construction in 60% of the West Bank which is under full Israeli control and regularly demolish homes and other structures built without hard-to-obtain Israeli permits. Authorities also said they would open a new vehicular passage in the northern West Bank.

Palestinian workers enter Israel after crossing from Gaza on the Israeli side of the crossing between Israel and the Gaza Strip, March.  27, 2022.

Palestinian workers enter Israel after crossing from Gaza on the Israeli side of the crossing between Israel and the Gaza Strip, March. 27, 2022.
((Photo AP / Oded Balilty, File))

Israel conquered the West Bank in the 1967 war and the Palestinians want it to form the main part of their future state.

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The Biden administration says it supports an eventual two-state solution. But it has largely remained on hold as Israel expands its settlements in the West Bank, where nearly 500,000 Jewish settlers with special legal status live alongside some 3 million Palestinians.

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