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Israel Eases Ban On Building Materials For Gaza

Shipments from Egypt are expected to be ramped up to 4,000 tons daily, said Yassir al Shanti, Gaza's deputy minister of housing and public works. He estimated Gaza needs up to 3 million tons of gravel to build roads, and the Qatar-funded projects need more than 1 million tons.

Under former President Hosni Mubarak, Egypt had poor relations with Hamas. Egypt's new president, Mohammed Morsi, comes from the Muslim Brotherhood and has vowed not to abandon the Palestinians. But he is moving cautiously, in part to avoid alienating Cairo's biggest patron, the United States.

Israel labels Hamas a terror group because of dozens of suicide bombings that have killed hundreds of Israelis, and Hamas does not recognize the existence of a Jewish state in an Islamic Middle East, so Egypt is mediating the new border arrangements between the two enemies.

A Hamas official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he wasn't authorized to disclose confidential contacts to reporters, said a Hamas delegation arrived in Cairo Sunday night to meet with Egyptian security officials for a second round of talks on border arrangements.

Palestinian economist Mouin Rajab said the new shipments would go only a small way to meet the needs Gaza has accumulated throughout five and a half years of blockade, during which time Hamas and Israel warred twice.

"Gaza needs more than what Israel has allowed and what Egypt has promised to allow," he said. "We are talking about six years of blockade, no real economy and no projects in addition to what Gaza lost during two wars in 2009 and 2012."

Reconstruction since the 2009 fighting has been slow, in part because of the blockade.

In the West Bank Monday, Palestinian Mahmoud Abbas said he would agree to resume negotiations with Israel under the auspices of an international peace conference. Abbas has previously resisted Israel's call for direct talks, saying Israel must first stop all its West Bank settlement construction.

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