JERUSALEM (Apr. 5)
The leadership of the intifada has officially eased restrictions on commercial activity in the administered territories and East Jerusalem, which have been hurting Palestinians more than Israelis.
The Unified National Command of the 4-year-old struggle circulated leaflets last Friday with the new directives, which also curtail general strikes.
Israeli security sources said it was less a demonstration of flexibility than acknowledgment of the de facto situation.
The restrictions were imposed on everyday commerce to make the point that there can be no business as usual so long as there is a Palestinian uprising.
But for the last two years at least, most of the curbs have been ignored by merchants trying to earn a living and by consumers who have to feed their families.
From now on, shops and businesses, which had been under orders to close at 1 p.m. daily, may remain open until 3 p.m. in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and 5 p.m. in East Jerusalem.
General strike days will be reduced to a minimum.
The changes stipulate that Palestinians killed by Israeli security forces will henceforth be honored with a partial general strike starting at 11 a.m. instead of a full day’s shutdown.
The boycott of Israeli produce has also been partially lifted. Fruits and vegetables not grown in the territories may now be bought in Israel.