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U.S. urging Israel to change Gaza policy

WASHINGTON (JTA) — The United States is increasing the pressure on Israel to open border crossings with the Gaza Strip, according to Ha’aretz.

The Israeli daily reported Thursday that the United States sent Israel a "diplomatic note officially protesting Gaza policy" three weeks ago, and followed up with a "verbal communication" stating that it thought the linkage of the release of kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit with the opening of the crossings was "not constructive."

The issue was raised as well in talks this week between Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, according to the newspaper.

The note made the overall point that Israel must take certain steps in Gaza if it wished to strengthen the Palestinian Authority in regard to Hamas.

It also outlined a number of places the U.S. would like to see a change in Israel’s Gaza policy. They included consistently allowing in food and medicine; allowing the transfer of money to Gaza banks; expanding the opening of border crossings; and permitting a variety of goods to enter the region, including construction materials such as cement and iron and other products that would enable imports and exports.

The U.S. added that it would assist in assembling a mechanism under United Nations auspices to make sure that building materials were not diverted to Hamas.

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