JERUSALEM // Israel is preparing a gradual easing of its ban on virtually all exports from Hamas-controlled Gaza next year, provided the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority checks all goods, the army said Thursday.
"We are preparing to give permission for the passage through Israeli territory of exports from Gaza, which could begin from the end of the first quarter of 2011 provided that the goods pose no security threat," said Major Guy Inbar, spokesman for the army's Gaza liaison office.
Israel would insist all "goods undergo prior inspection by representatives of the Palestinian Authority," Inbar told AFP, adding Israel already coordinated with the authority's representatives over imports into Gaza.
He said any resumption of exports "can only happen gradually," because of the security imperatives and the logistical difficulties.
He said Israel planned to increase the number of truckloads of goods that could be transferred to or from Gaza from 250 to 400 a day.
Israel relaxed it restrictions on imports to Gaza in the face of an international outcry over a deadly commando raid on an aid flotilla attempting to break its blockade of the territory on May 31.
But it has maintained its export ban and its very tight restrictions on the movement of people to and from the Gaza Strip.
Israel first imposed the restrictions after the capture of a soldier by Gaza-based militants in a deadly cross-border raid in 2006 and tightened them the next year after the Islamist Hamas movement seized control of the territory.