Israeli forces have indefinitely closed down the northern entrance to the occupied West Bank twin cities of Ramallah and al-Bireh.
On Saturday night, amid ongoing protests over US President Donald Trump’s decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, the Israeli Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) decided to close off the DCO checkpoint that connects Ramallah to the northern West Bank cities.
“Israel decides to close the DCO checkpoint until further notice due to the ongoing rioting that is taking place at the City Inn roundabout near Ramallah’s entrance,” noted a statement on Twitter by COGAT, the Israeli military body that administers parts of the West Bank.
“The ball is in the Palestinian people’s court and the equation is clear – when peace is restored, normal conditions will resume, but as long as violence continues the border will remain closed.”
#اسرائیل تقرر إغلاق #معبر_المحكمة_DCO حتى إشعار آخر بسبب استمرار اعمال الشغب في دوار #سیتي_ان (inn city ) على مدخل #رام_الله
إن الكرة في الملعب الفلسطیني والمعادلة واضحة- الھدوء سیعید الأوضاع إلى ما كانت علیها، وكلما استمر العنف سیبقى المعبر مغلقًا.#الاستقرار_یولد_الازدھار pic.twitter.com/Gyt7JIvsic
— المنسق (@CogatArabic) December 23, 2017
The checkpoint usually offers a shorter route to travelers, who would otherwise be required to take a longer way that is adjacent to the illegal Beit El settlement.
It is frequently used by Palestinian Authority officials, foreigners, diplomats and journalists going in and out of the occupied West Bank near Ramallah.
Protests in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza Strip erupted earlier this month, after Trump announced the US would be relocating its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, declaring the holy city as Israel’s capital.
Since then, Israeli forces have killed 12 Palestinians, including four during air raids in Gaza. At least 2,900 others have been injured and more than 400 arrested.
Last week, the United Nations General Assembly passed a non-binding resolution declaring Trump’s decision “null and void”. It was approved with 128 votes in favour.
Prior to the vote, Trump had threatened to halt aid to member states who voted against his Jerusalem decision, and his administration’s ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, warned countries that Trump would be “taking names” of those who opposed his decision.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has rejected US peace efforts and called on the European Union to take the lead in the Israel-Palestine peace process.