US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice helped broker a deal today between Israeli and Palestinian officials on the manning of the Gaza-Egypt border crossing. Rice called the deal a "big step forward" in strained Israeli-Palestinian relations. “With the international community, Israel and the Palestinian Authority must keep working hard to make these measures work in practice," Rice said. "As Palestinians move back and forth to the outside world, as they trade with their Israeli neighbors, the lives of ordinary people on both sides will change for the better."
Under the agreement, the border would tentatively open Nov. 25, construction of a Gaza seaport would begin and Palestinians would be able to travel between the West Bank and Gaza in bus convoys through Israel. The agreement gives the Palestinians control over a border for the first time and will provide a much-needed boost to the shattered Gaza economy.