The Palestinian Authority called Israel’s decision to ease the blockade on Gaza “insufficient” Thursday and reiterated its demand for a full reopening of all border crossings into the Gaza Strip. Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat called Israel’s easing of restrictions in the face of international pressure after last month’s flotilla incident nothing more than “a public relations ploy.” “Out of 7,000 goods that the residents of the Gaza Strip need, Israel allows only 81 in,” he added, “The international community must force Israel to completely lift the blockade.” But Israel is already concerned that any further loosening would compromise its bargaining power and let up the pressure on Hamas. “We need to keep some level of leverage so we do not inadvertently strengthen Hamas and also prevent a reconciliation with Fatah,” one Israeli defense official said.
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