The week of November 9, 2009, the Jalama/Gilboa crossing point was upgraded to allow passage of vehicular traffic in addition to pedestrians. The crossing is used mostly by Israeli Arabs going to Jenin to shop. Since Israeli Arabs have been allowed to travel to Jenin, Tul Karem, Jericho and Bethlehem, these cities have seen a significant rise in retail trade, stimulating the local economies.
Permitting the passage of vehicles and not only pedestrians will facilitate movement of foreign diplomats and international organizations' employees and lead to increased numbers of Israeli Arabs entering the West Bank and increased commercial activity in Jenin and northern Samaria. It is estimated that 400 vehicles will cross daily, and 600 on the weekend. From January to July 2009, 78,000 Israeli Arabs entered Jenin, compared to 48,000 in the same period the previous year. Comparing October 2009 and October 2008 shows an increase of 30% in the passage of goods and people. It is estimated that Arab Israelis visiting Jenin, Tul Karen and Nablus alone already account for NIS 8 million every weekend.
The crossing upgrade was aided by USAID and the opening of the upgraded crossing was attended by Silvan Shalom, Vice Prime Minister and Minister for Regional Development; Avishay Braverman, Minister of Minority Affairs; Matan Vilnai, Deputy Minister of Defense; Tony Blair, Quartet special envoy; Moussa Kadura, Governor of Jenin; and Danny Atar, Head of Gilboa Regional Council. The Israeli speakers reiterated Israel’s commitment to continuing the negotiations with the Palestinians. Minister Shalom took the opportunity to publicly urge Abu Mazen and Fayad to return to the negotiating table.
Sources: Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs