Israel Palestine Conflict

Israel increases work permits for Palestinians in Gaza ahead of Biden visit

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Israel on Tuesday increased the number of work permits for Palestinians in Gaza, part of a series of measures affecting Palestinians ahead of US President Joe Biden’s arrival in Jerusalem.

An additional 1,500 Palestinians will be allowed to leave the blockaded Gaza Strip to work in Israel, the military said in a statement.

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The move was described as part of “a series of measures for building confidence between Israel and the Palestinian Authority” by COGAT, the Israeli defense ministry body responsible for civil affairs in the Palestinian territories.

The extra permits mean a total of 15,500 Gazans will be permitted to work in Israel, where Palestinians often find jobs as laborers on construction sites or farms.

Some 2.3 million Palestinians live in the impoverished Gaza Strip, which has been under an Israeli blockade since Hamas took power in 2007.

COGAT said the latest move came “in advance of the United States president’s visit” on Wednesday and followed a rare meeting last week between Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz and Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas.

Israel additionally said it would add 5,500 undocumented residents to the Palestinian Population Registry.

Inclusion in the Israeli-controlled database is essential for Palestinians to obtain identity documents or travel abroad.

With no peace process in play since 2014, Israel has adopted a policy known as “shrinking the conflict” with a series of steps to improve daily life for Palestinians.

The latest measures also include approving six construction plans for Palestinians in the West Bank, which Israel has occupied since the 1967 Six-Day War.

Arab Israelis will also be permitted to drive to the city of Jenin in the northern West Bank, COGAT said.

Biden is due in Jerusalem on Wednesday and will hold talks with Israeli and Palestinian officials, before travelling onwards to Saudi Arabia on Friday.

Read more:

Six things to watch during Biden’s trip to the Middle East

Growing Israeli West Bank settlements test US position ahead of Biden visit

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