Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Truce to bring gradual relief to Gaza - Israeli officials

From Reuters:
An Egyptian-mediated truce that appears likely between Israel and Hamas will begin with only a gradual and partial easing of an Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip, officials said on Tuesday.

"If Hamas keeps the ceasefire, we can gradually deliver more goods and supplies," an Israeli official said.

But he said any commitment to a particular level of supplies into the Gaza Strip would be kept "vague on purpose".

The Israeli official said Rafah could reopen only if there was "significant progress" towards the release of a captured Israeli soldier. Israel controls access to the border terminal by European monitors who oversee its operation

"No shooting won't be enough to reopen Rafah. Progress on Gilad Shalit is required," he said, referring to the soldier held by Gaza militants since 2006.

A Palestinian source familiar with the ceasefire negotiations cited what he said were six points in the burgeoning agreement:

  1. Egypt declares a starting time for the truce.
  2. Israel reopens the Karni and Sufa commercial crossings into the Gaza Strip three days later, with the flow of goods set at 30 percent of the levels before Hamas took over the territory.
  3. Hamas guarantees that all Palestinian factions in the Gaza Strip abide by the ceasefire.
  4. Ten days after the truce begins, Israel removes limitations on the flow of goods through Karni and Sufa, although some restrictions on chemicals that could be used for explosives would remain in place.
  5. Hamas and Fatah reach an arrangement on administering the Rafah crossing.
  6. Talks on Rafah and negotiations to secure Shalit's release, in a prisoner swap with Hamas, will be held in parallel.

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