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Israel Agrees to Steps to Improve Palestinian Life

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu agreed in a meeting with the international community’s Middle East peace envoy, Tony Blair, to take steps to improve conditions for Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

The measures include reviving talks with the Palestinian Authority on the development of a gas field off Hamas-controlled Gaza, and the building of a new power station and desalination plants there, Blair said in a statement on Netanyahu’s website.

Further measures will be taken to promote exports from Gaza and gain approval for 20 more construction projects, according to the statement. In the West Bank, Israel agreed that forces from the Palestinian Authority will extend their presence to seven towns outside major cities, Blair said.

Netanyahu held talks with Blair today before tomorrow’s meeting of the so-called Quartet on Middle East peace in Germany, where the group is expected to discuss stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations. Blair represents the Quartet, which includes the U.S., the European Union, Russia and the United Nations.

(Updates with details of the measures starting in second paragraph.)
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