Palestine agrees to be checked on borders

The Palestinians are ready to consider continued Israeli inspection of goods entering the Gaza Strip, the Palestinian foreign minister said Thursday, signaling a possible breakthrough in a key dispute over border arrangements after Israel's pullout from the coastal strip.

The foreign minister, Nasser al-Kidwa, insisted however, that Israel cannot have control over people entering and leaving Gaza through the Rafah crossing on the Gaza-Egypt border.

As part of the Gaza pullout, Israel will leave the narrow strip it had been patrolling on the Gaza-Egypt border. This means Israeli inspectors will have to leave the Rafah crossing.

However, Israel is reluctant to give up control over people and goods flowing into Gaza, fearing militants could try to smuggle weapons into the coastal strip. Egypt and the Palestinians have proposed deploying foreign inspectors at Rafah to prevent smuggling, but Israel has rejected the idea.

Instead, Israel has proposed moving the Rafah crossing to a three-way meeting point between Egypt, Gaza and Israel, which would allow the continued presence of Israeli inspectors. The Palestinians have rejected the idea.

However, al-Kidwa told a news conference Thursday that "we would consider having goods come in the way Israel has proposed, at a trilateral crossing," he said.

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