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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

West Bank Road Opens After 3 Years

HEBRON, West Bank -- Israel partly reopened a main road in the West Bank town of Hebron to limited Palestinian traffic Monday for the first time since a 1994 massacre of Arabs by a Jewish settler.


A U.S.-brokered peace deal paved the way for Palestinian ambulances, taxis and municipal vehicles to travel along a section of Shuhada, or Martyrs, street again -- albeit in only one direction.


Cars with Israeli license plates had free run of the road, up and down a heavily guarded hilly stretch bordering a Moslem cemetery in an area of Hebron still under Israeli control.


Hours after the reopening, journalists and Israeli soldiers outnumbered vehicles plying the route that begins at an outdoor market and ends at a "no-entry" sign which Israeli authorities placed at a turnoff to a Jewish seminary.


Israeli and Palestinian workers cleared roadblocks Sunday night, but the more formidable barrier of mistrust remained.


"It is a new reality, a problematic reality," settler spokesman Noam Arnon told Israeli Television minutes before the opening. "It will be flooded with Arab cars, which will pose a real danger to the Jews here."


For some Palestinian taxi drivers it was only more of the same in the volatile town where some 400 Jewish settlers live or study amid more than 100,000 Arabs.


Israeli policemen, wearing flak jackets and carrying assault rifles, stopped Palestinian taxis from parking outside newly reopened taxi offices, saying permission had yet to be granted by Israeli military authorities.


Israeli authorities said the street, closed to Palestinian vehicles since Jewish settler Baruch Goldstein massacred 29 Arab worshippers at al-Ibrahimi Mosque in February 1994, would reopen in stages over a four-month period.


Hebron's Palestinian mayor, Mustafa al-Natsheh, demanded that Israel step up the pace, and the street is likely to be on the agenda when Palestinian President Yasser Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meet Thursday to iron out various disputes.