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Officials: Israel lessens restrictions on goods shipment to West Bank

Feb. 1, 2014 8:45 P.M. (Updated: Feb. 3, 2014 11:33 A.M.)
NABLUS (Ma'an) -- Israel has agreed to several steps meant to facilitate the shipment of goods between Israel and the West Bank in both directions at al-Jalameh terminal in the northern West Bank, according to the Nablus chamber of commerce.

Deputy chairperson of the chamber Omar Hashim told a Ma'an reporter on Saturday that the agreements were the outcome of uninterrupted efforts by the chamber through the United States Agency for International Development.

He highlighted that officials representing the Nablus chamber of commerce and USAID made the announcement Saturday during a meeting they held atthe offices of the chamber.

The agreements, he said, will help improve the import and export process, reduce financial burdens and save time and effort.

The agreements included Israel's approval that containers exported from the Palestinian territory into Israel can be loaded in the Palestinian territory.

Israel also agreed to allow containers coming from Israeli seaports directly into the West Bank through al-Jalameh terminal. Until now, these containers had been unloaded and then were forced to transfer from Israeli trucks to Palestinian trucks at an exchange area in the terminal.

Palestinian truck drivers were required to register their names at the entrance to the terminal upon arrival, then wait until the Israeli driver was available at the other side. They were also requested to do VAT-customs check and go through physical security inspection which could include strip search.

Improvements also included approval to allow two pallets of goods to travel one on top of another in flat-pack trucks. Trucks were allowed to carry only two rows of single pallets previously.

Furthermore, trucks will be allowed to carry pallets containing different kinds of goods, but on the condition that each pallet have the same kind. Previously, trucks were allowed to carry only one kind of goods in each load.

Experimental shipment of olive oil in flexi and bulk containers will be conducted as soon as possible.

Israel maintains a complex system of regulation and control over imports and exports into the West Bank, creating difficulties for Palestinian merchants.

The internationally recognized Palestinian territories of which the West Bank and East Jerusalem form a part have been occupied by the Israeli military since 1967.

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