Israeli ministers have approved measures aimed at improving the Palestinian economy and facilitating crossings, rare moves said to be at the U.S. President Donald Trump's request hours ahead of his arrival.
In what the official described as a "gesture for Trump's visit, which does not harm Israel's interests", Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's security cabinet on Sunday approved the enlargement of a Palestinian industrial zone on the edge of the southern West Bank.
He said that the possibility of extending Israel Railways services to the northern West Bank city of Jenin would also be examined.
The official said that opening hours for passage across the main Jordan River bridge linking the Palestinian territory and the neighboring kingdom were to be extended to 24/7.
He did not elaborate but Israel's Haaretz daily said the intention was to allow construction of "thousands of Palestinian homes" in the area where for years it has been almost impossible for Palestinians to get Israeli permits to build on their own land. Haaretz said that at Sunday night's meeting Education Minister Naftali Bennett and deputy foreign minister Ayelet Shaked, of the religious-nationalist Jewish Home party, "objected vehemently" to the building plans.
In an apparent attempt to calm opposition from within Netanyahu's coalition government, seen as the most right-wing in the country's history, the security cabinet also approved setting up a committee to work for retroactive legalization of wildcat Israeli construction in the West Bank, the official said.