Palestinian Minister of Economy Mazin Sinnukrut said on Thursday that the Quartet envoy to the Middle East, James Wolfensohn, informed him that there is a progress in Israel’s attitude towards the mobility of goods through the Israeli checkpoints.

Currently, goods being shipped between Israel and Palestinian territories are transferred by what is known as the ‘back-to-back method’:  trucks arrive at the checkpoints full of goods, then workers unload the goods, carry them through the checkpoint, and reload them into other trucks on the other side of the checkpoint.

Palestinians have requested that loaded trucks be allowed to pass through the checkpoints to facilitate the transfer of goods between Israel and Palestine.

Wolfensohn said Israel is considering using advanced technology for security checks of the trucks.

 Sinnukrut added that Israel still insist to allow only a railroad as a linkage between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.  However, Israel agreed on a three-lane-road to link Erez checkpoint with Tarqumia in Hebron.

On Wednesday Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon reiterated Israel’s rejection of building a regular road to link Gaza with the West Bank, and said that only Israel will have control over the railroad.

The railroad will be built overground in the Palestinian populated areas and underground in the Israeli populated areas, to avoid any contact between Palestinians and Israelis along the tracks.

Sinnukrut said building the railroad would take two to three years, during which he suggested busses for commuting between the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.