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10,000 Palestinian laborers cross from Gaza into Israel

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    Last Update: 02/11/2003 09:13 10,000 Palestinian laborers cross from Gaza into Israel By Aluf Benn, Haaretz Correspondent, Haaretz Service and Agencies
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 2, 2003
      Last Update: 02/11/2003 09:13

      10,000 Palestinian laborers cross from Gaza into Israel

      By Aluf Benn, Haaretz Correspondent, Haaretz Service and Agencies
      http://www.haaretzdaily.com/hasen/spages/356054.html


      Israel permitted 10,000 Palestinian laborers to
      cross early Sunday from the Gaza Strip into
      Israel, allowing them to return to their
      workplaces for the first time since restrictions
      were tightened a month ago in response to a deadly
      suicide bombing, the Israel Defense Forces said.

      The Palestinian workers
      crammed through the Erez
      crossing before dawn Sunday,
      succumbing to tight security
      checks but pleased to return
      to their workplaces for the
      first time since a female
      suicide bomber blew herself
      up in a Haifa restaurant on
      October 4, killing 23 people.

      Israel began easing restrictions for the
      Palestinians on Thursday, an IDF spokesman
      said, when it allowed some 4,500 West Bank
      laborers and merchants to go to work in Israel.
      In addition, Israel allowed public
      transportation between West Bank towns and
      cities to resume, the spokesman said.

      PA welcomes Israeli peace moves

      Palestinian leaders Saturday welcomed Israeli
      offers to resume peace talks, but said any
      negotiations must come with efforts to stop
      violence and halt settlement building in the
      West Bank and Gaza Strip.

      Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia also
      signaled Saturday that he was not opposed to
      meeting with Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, and
      confirmed that there were contacts between the
      two sides.

      Asked about the possibility he would hold talks
      with Sharon, Qureia told reporters: "We are not
      against [it]."

      "We have not studied the issue of a meeting, but
      there are contacts with the Israelis," said
      Qureia, who is also trying to restart talks
      with Hamas and other militant groups aimed at
      persuading them to stop suicide bombings and
      other attacks on Israelis.

      Sharon said earlier this week that he was
      willing to hold talks with Qureia, reversing
      previous Israeli suggestions that it would not
      deal with the new Palestinian prime minister
      because he was too close to Palestinian
      Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat. Both Israel
      and the United States have sought to sideline
      Arafat, believing he is closely linked to
      terrorism.

      Meanwhile, legislators from Arafat's Fatah
      faction meeting Saturday in Ramallah picked a
      top Fatah official as their candidate to be the
      speaker of the Palestinian Legislative
      Committee, a position left vacant by Qureia.

      The nominee, Rafiq al-Natche, a former
      ambassador to Saudi Arabia and former labor
      minister, was the most likely candidate to
      become the new parliament speaker.

      The decision precedes a more crucial meeting of
      the Fatah Central Committee to discuss the
      appointment of interior minister in the Qureia
      government.

      Qureia, who has threatened to resign as prime
      minister if Arafat does not give him control
      over all Palestinian security forces, has
      chosen Nasser Yousef as his man for interior
      minister.

      The Palestinian prime minister, who currently
      leads an emergency government with a one-month
      mandate, has until Tuesday to form a full
      cabinet. So far, he has been unable to do so,
      mainly because of intense wrangling with Arafat
      over his ministerial choices.

      But a senior defense official said Thursday that
      he expects the Qureia government to win
      approval, despite disputes within the PA over
      its composition.

      The American administration has made it clear to
      the Palestinians that "the ball in now in their
      court" - that progress in the peace process
      depends on unifying the Palestinian security
      forces under Qureia's, and not Arafat's,
      authority and taking steps against terror. But
      it has also made clear to Israel it must
      improve humanitarian conditions in the
      territories.
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