Israel grants entry to Palestinian medics’ own cars

Vehicles with Palestinian plates are prohibited from using Israeli-controlled roads that run through parts of the West Bank

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Israel began Tuesday to allow Palestinian medical staff working in the country to enter from the West Bank with their own vehicles, a first in 15 years, defense ministry body said.

COGAT, the coordinating body for Israeli government policy in the Palestinian territories, said it had “approved for Palestinian doctors who work shifts and other jobs that require heightened responsiveness in hospitals in Israel to enter Israel with their vehicles.”

Permits were being issued immediately, it said.

“For the first time since 2000, Palestinian vehicles are entering Israel,” COGAT said, adding that the move was aimed to “assist doctors in completing their life-saving mission.”

After the outbreak of the second intifada, or uprising in 2000, Palestinian cars were banned entering from the West Bank and Gaza Strip for “national security reasons,” a spokesman said.

Vehicles with Palestinian plates are also prohibited from using Israeli-controlled roads that run through parts of the West Bank.

On Thursday, Palestinian police were deployed for the first time in three areas of the West Bank near Occupied East Jerusalem, in an effort to target “criminals” and in coordination with Israeli security forces, officials on both sides said.

That came despite a Palestinian threat to end security coordination with Israel -- which relies heavily on them to prevent attacks by West Bank militants -- after Israel withheld tax revenues due to the Palestinian Authority earlier this year.

That was in retaliation for the Palestinians joining the International Criminal Court, through which they intend to pursue Israeli officials for alleged war crimes.

Israel is additional pressure on the international stage after a spat between the U.S. administration and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who swore during his successful reelection campaign in March to prevent the creation of a Palestinian state.

Netanyahu subsequently backtracked, saying instead that conditions were not currently ripe for a state.

The international community supports the two-state solution as the only path to peace.

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