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While diplomatic relations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority remain strained, the Hamas-led government concluded its first official business deal with an Israeli firm late Thursday night.
The contract - between the Paz Oil Company and the PA government - establishes Paz as the exclusive gasoline supplier for the PA. The deal, set to go into effect on January 1, 2007, is expected to save the PA some $18 million, Israel Radio reported.
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At a press conference in Ramallah, Acting PA Finance Minister Samir Abu Aisha hailed the Paz deal as a Hamas victory over government corruption in the PA, and said that his life had been threatened over it.
Abu Aisha also declared that he was willing to meet with Israeli officials "at any time" to discuss Palestinian issues.