Israeli Defense Minister Barak refuses to budge on checkpoints

Israel’s Defense Minister (and former Prime Minister) Ehud Barak said on Monday and Tuesday (after the recent visit of U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney that he would not remove the West Bank checkpoints and roadblocks that all the members of the Quartet have called on Israel to remove.

Reuters reported that “Israel is under increasing U.S. pressure to take steps to ease restrictions on Palestinian travel and trade. But Defense Minister Ehud Barak said on Monday that while Israel would try to ease some travel restrictions within the West Bank, it was not ready to commit to removing checkpoints”. This Reuters report is posted here .

The Associated Press reported that Barak indicated “The government would ‘look into’ certain changes to in a limited test area, he said, but offered no details. ‘It’s still too early to give an answer’, Barak said. Israeli officials have said that without the Israeli military presence, the West Bank could fall to the Islamic militants of Hamas, just as the Gaza Strip did last June”. The AP report is posted here .