Israel says it will consider reopening Gaza crossings if violence stops

By: The Associated Press
By: The Associated Press

Israel says it will consider reopening Gaza's border crossings if attacks from the territory cease.

Defense officials say the statement by Defense Minister Ehud Barak is aimed at strengthening the moderate Palestinian government in the West Bank.

The defense chief had opposed opening Gaza's borders since the militant Hamas group took control of the territory last June. The officials caution that reopening the borders is likely a long way off. A Palestinian peace negotiator says he's not sure Barak's statement is serious.

Peace talks between the two sides have stalled over Palestinian violence and Israeli settlement construction on land Palestinians want for a future state. Israel says it's going to build 1,400 more apartments in the West Bank and east Jerusalem. That announcement defies an appeal by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who says continued settlement construction could hurt peace efforts.

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