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PNA minister: Limited land exchange for Gaza-W. Bank passage can be accepted
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10:17, April 03, 2008

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A Palestinian minister said on Wednesday that a limited exchange of land with Israel in return of "a safe corridor" linking the West Bank and the Gaza Strip could be accepted.

Mahmoud al-Habbash, minister of agriculture, told a news conference in Ramallah that the Palestinian National Authorities (PNA) is "ready to negotiate the possibility of limited, simple exchange of land for the safe passage which will link the Gaza Strip with the West Bank."

He added that the PNA "rejects to cut any piece of the future Palestinian statehood by building Israeli settlements or any other thing," reaffirming that the statehood should be created on thepre-1967 war borders.

The movement of Palestinians between the two territories was largely cut after the outbreak of the second Palestinian Intifada in 2000.

Israel also sealed off the Gaza Strip in June 2007 after Islamic Hamas movement violently seized the enclave after routing security forces loyal to moderate Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

In 1999, Israel and the PNA reached "a safe passage" protocol, upon which Palestinian private cars were allowed to move between the Gaza Strip and the West Bank via several crossings, mainly Erez gate in northern Gaza Strip.

However, the mechanism was soon stopped at the start of the Intifada.


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