Barak downbeat on removing roadblocks


Israel played down expectations that it could remove a large number of West Bank roadblocks as a goodwill gesture.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has demanded that military checkpoints and unmanned roadblocks be removed en masse to ease travel restrictions on the Palestinians and boost his domestic support. But Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Tuesday that this was unrealistic given ongoing warnings of planned terrorist attacks emanating from the West Bank.

“The removal of checkpoints, their number and locations, will be decided within the context of security only,” Barak told Israeli military commanders, according to his office.

Israeli officials said that Barak, who will meet with visiting U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Wednesday, could propose the removal of a small number of checkpoints as an initial trust-building measure.

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