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Israeli delegation open to easing Gaza blockade

Aug. 12, 2014 11:10 A.M. (Updated: Aug. 13, 2014 12:59 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- A nine-hour session of indirect negotiations between the Palestinian and Israeli delegations in Cairo on Monday ended with a partial draft agreement on easing the blockade on Gaza, sources close to the talks told Ma'an.

Negotiations for a lasting end to hostilities in the Gaza Strip are to resume at noon on Tuesday, the sources said.

Meanwhile, some of the terms of the draft agreement were reported by Israeli media. According to Channel 2, Palestinian factions, the Egyptian mediators, and the Israeli delegation have agreed on six terms so far:

1. Allowing Gaza fishermen to fish 12 nautical miles from shore.

2. Increasing the daily number of trucks importing goods to Gaza to 250.

3. Increasing the monthly number of permits granted to Gazans to pass through Erez crossing to 500.

4. Allowing money to be transferred from the West Bank to Gaza via the Palestinian Authority.

5. Opening the Rafah crossing with Egypt.

6. Freeing prisoners who were rearrested after being released in the Gilad Shalit exchange.

Additionally, the Israeli news site Ynet said that Israel had agreed to allow construction materials to enter Gaza "under close supervision."

Ynet also quoted an anonymous Israeli political source as saying Israel would not allow the construction of a seaport unless Hamas and other factions in Gaza agreed to demilitarize.

In order to reach a lasting end to hostilities in Gaza, Palestinians have demanded Israel end its eight-year siege on the Strip, release dozens of prisoners whom Israel has re-arrested that were released in 2011 as part of the Shalit deal, re-open a seaport and airport in Gaza, and create a safe passage between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

Israeli demands have centered around the demilitarization of Gaza factions and a return to "quiet" for Israel's civilians -- meaning a halt to rocket fire.

Israel's offensive on Gaza has left nearly 2,000 Palestinians dead, the vast majority of them civilians, in addition to 67 people on the Israeli side, most of them soldiers.

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