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Observers say Israel standing by pledge to ease restrictions

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Observers say Israel standing by pledge to ease restrictions


As Palestinians head to the polls, there have been mixed reports about just how easy it is for people to make their voices heard.

Former French prime minister Michel Rocard and ex American president Jimmy Carter are among 800 international monitors. They say it appears Israel is sticking to its promise to ease the passage of Palestinians at military checkpoints. Mr Rocard said he is happy with what he has seen so far but that it will be a long day and everyone will have to wait and see what happens. Mr Carter, who brokered Israel’s 1979 peace accord with Egypt, said he had spoken with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s office and they seem to have honoured requests to ease travel. “Last night I called about a checkpoint near Ramallah where people were being held up and it was immediately opened. I have Sharon’s private number and during the day if anything arises I can call him. “ But some Palestinians complained yesterday that Israel was not abiding by its pledge to loosen its grip in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. One cabinet minister said Palestinians and their cars were still being stopped and checked at roadblocks. And in the south of the Gaza Strip, there have been reports from Palestinian security sources that only small groups of men are being allowed through checkpoints.
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