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Last Updated: Wednesday, 21 November 2007, 17:22 GMT
Palestinians to get armoured cars
Palestinian security forces in Nablus
Israeli has praised the work of Palestinian security forces in Nablus
Israel has approved the transfer of 25 armoured vehicles to Palestinian security forces in the West Bank.

The move has long been opposed by Israeli security forces but officials described it as a goodwill gesture.

The Russian-made vehicles are to be deployed in Nablus. Israel also allowed provision of 1,000 guns and 2m bullets.

The moves are meant to bolster Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who will attend peace talks next week in the US city of Annapolis.

Israeli officials said another 25 armoured vehicles could be sent if Mr Abbas's forces make progress in curbing militants.

The militant wing of Hamas, which wrested the Gaza Strip from Mr Abbas in June, called the shipment a "Zionist gift" and accused Palestinian security services in the West Bank of collaborating with Israel.

Delivery of the vehicles was first approved in 2005, said an Israeli government spokeswomen, but was put on hold when Hamas won Palestinian Authority parliamentary elections in 2006.

In another gesture to the Palestinians, Israel announced that flower and strawberry exports could resume from the Gaza Strip via Israel to Europe.

Israel has blocked exports from Gaza, whose borders it controls, since the Hamas take-over, and in September it declared the coast strip a "hostile territory".

Correspondents say Israel's blockade has raised warnings of a humanitarian crisis in the impoverished, overcrowded territory where more than 80% of the population depends on aid.

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