U.S. Lauds Israeli Goodwill Gestures to Palestinians

Palestinian fishermen cast off in the Mediterranean Sea off Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip. (Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)

A series of goodwill gestures by Israeli toward the Palestinians has earned praise from Washington, which has been encouraging them.

“The U.S. is pleased to see Israel and the Palestinian Authority working together to yield positive results, including an agreement to regularize the status of thousands of Palestinians in the West Bank. We look forward to more such tangible steps in the months ahead,” a State Department statement said.

Defense Minister Benny Gantz said on Monday that Israel will recognize thousands of undocumented foreign nationals married to Palestinians as part of an overall Israeli strategy to strengthen the Palestinian Authority.

Palestinian spouses have resided illegally in Yehuda and Shomron for years while being denied permits to live with their families. Israeli courts have ruled that family unification in the region is not a right guaranteed by international law.

Meanwhile, Israeli authorities announced on Wednesday the immediate expansion of the Gaza fishing zone to its furthest point in years, and will allow 5,000 more workers in addition to the current 2,000 permitted from the enclave, despite four nights of Hamas-organized riots along the border.

“These civil steps were approved by the political echelon and are dependent upon the continued preservation of security stability for an extended period. An extension of them will be considered in accordance with a situational assessment,” Israel’s military liaison to the Palestinians said in a statement.

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