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Israel and Qatar reach agreement to establish Gaza-Cyprus sea crossing: report

Palestinian children and others in boats fly Palestinian flags to show their support for the flotilla attempting to reach the Gaza Strip, in the port of Gaza City Saturday, July 2, 2011. Israel has denied claims by activists that it sabotaged ships docked
AP Photo/Hatem Moussa
The crossing is to be conducted under international administration with Israeli security supervision

Qatar and Israel have reportedly agreed to begin preparations for the establishment of a sea crossing between Gaza and Cyprus, Lebanese newspaper Al-Akhbar said Saturday.

The crossing is to be conducted under international administration with Israeli security supervision.

Al-Akhbar reported that Israel had been demanding they be able to have a security presence at the crossing, which Hamas refused to accept. 

Though not finalized, an agreement was apparently reached which will allow Israeli security forces to monitor the crossing via cameras and connect to the computer network, but international inspectors will be the only physical presence allowed, similarly to the agreement reached over the Rafah crossing in 2005. 

The sea-crossing comes as yet another step towards an agreement as Egypt and the United Nations have been brokering indirect negotiations for a long-term truce with Israel, with which Hamas has fought three wars since 2008.

AP Photo/Ariel Schalit, File

On Friday, Palestinian civil servants formed long queues in Gaza to receive Qatari-funded salaries, as part of efforts to ease tensions in and around the impoverished territory.

A total of $90 million is to be distributed in six monthly installments of $15 million, according to authorities, primarily to cover salaries of officials working for Hamas, the Islamist movement that rules the Palestinian enclave.

Qatar has also said it would hand out $100 to each of 50,000 poor families, as well as larger sums to Palestinians wounded in clashes along Gaza's border with Israel.

The Israeli-authorized money transfer appeared to be part of a deal that would see cash-strapped Hamas end months of often violent protests along the border in exchange for Israel easing its blockade of Gaza.

 'Capitulation to terrorism' 

Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman criticized the Qatari money transfer to Gaza.Supplied

"This is capitulation to terrorism, and in effect Israel is buying short-term calm with money, while severely undermining long-term security," he said, quoted in Yediot Aharonot newspaper on Friday.

In another Israeli-approved deal, Qatar has started buying additional fuel for Gaza's sole power station, allowing planned outages to be reduced to their lowest level in recent years.

Deadly clashes have accompanied the major protests along the Gaza border with Israel that began on March 30, generating at times fears of a new war between the Jewish state and the strip's militant rulers.

At least 220 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire, the majority shot during protests and clashes, while others have died in tank fire or air strikes.

One Israeli soldier was killed by a Palestinian sniper.

Israel says its actions are necessary to defend the border and stop infiltration and attacks, which it accuses Hamas of seeking to orchestrate.


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