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Abbas, Barak differ on checkpoints

Mahmoud Abbas accused Israel of bad faith over the issue of West Bank checkpoints.

The Palestinian Authority president said in a speech Monday marking the 43rd anniversary of his Fatah faction’s founding that Israel’s promises to remove some West Bank checkpoints have not been borne out, despite the issue coming up repeatedly in his recent talks with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.

“There are 640 of them in the West Bank, and each time they say they will remove them or have removed them,” Abbas said. “But I can honestly say that they did not remove a single checkpoint.”

Abbas’ statement was disputed by Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak, who told troops during a West Bank visit Tuesday that two major checkpoints and dozens of unmanned roadblocks have been dismantled as part of efforts to ease travel for Palestinians.

But Barak poured cold water on any idea of a more sweeping removal.

“There is no chance of waging an effective fight against terror without a real and daily control of the field, and the checkpoints and roadblocks will remain,” he said.

 

 

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