'Israel agrees to ease blockade'
By JPOST.COM STAFF
Negotiations have been going on under the radar since last week to ease the blockade on Gaza and alleviate the difficulties faced by its population, the UK Telegraph reported on Wednesday, citing Western officials.
According to the report, a confidential document was drawn up by various Western mediators, among them the UK, to outline guidelines for the passage of more aid to the besieged territory through Israel.
While officials in Jerusalem reportedly denied that the negotiations were prompted by Israel's wish to evade culpability for the deaths of nine Turkish nationals on board the Mavi Marmara, the Telegraph quoted one source as saying there was a "quid pro quo deal" in the works.
Israel has turned down suggestions to set up an international or even UN-mandated commission of inquiry to investigate the navy raid on the ship, with Israel's Washington ambassador Michael Oren saying Israel “has the ability and the right to investigate itself, not to be investigated by any international board."
He added, "I don’t think the United States would want an international inquiry into its military activities in Afghanistan, for example.”
Various international bodies, among them the Quartet for the Middle East, reportedly urged Israel in the confidential document to replace the list of items officially allowed into Gaza - 35 in all - with a list of items which are expressly forbidden, as well as to allow construction materials in under UN auspices. The document also called on Israel to ease the stringent security which often causes bottlenecks at land crossings.
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