Xinhua Middle East news summary at 2200 GMT, Feb. 23

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GAZA -- A UN delegation arrived in the Gaza Strip on Thursday to defuse the tension between Israel and Hamas, the ruler of the Palestinian enclave, Palestinian security sources said.

The delegation, headed by UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Tor Wennesland, entered Gaza through the Israeli-controlled Erez Crossing in the northern tip of Gaza, the sources told Xinhua on condition of anonymity. (Palestine-Gaza-UN Delegation-Tensions)

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JERUSALEM -- Israel has approved plans to build 7,157 new housing units in the settlements in the occupied West Bank, an Israeli settlement watchdog group said Thursday.

The Higher Planning Council of the Civil Administration, an Israeli body responsible for approving construction in the West Bank, approved the building plans after two days of discussions that began on Wednesday, according to a statement released by Peace Now. (Israel-Settlements-Approval)

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BAGHDAD -- The Central Bank of Iraq (CBI) is planning to settle trade with China in Chinese yuan to improve Iraq's access to foreign currency, a government official told Xinhua on Thursday.

The CBI issued on Wednesday a package of measures aiming to support the stability of the exchange rates of the Iraqi dinar and facilitate access to foreign currencies in the country, said Ammar al-Ibrahimi, an official with the media office of Iraq's Federal Board of Supreme Audit. (Iraq-China-Trade with Yuan)

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JERUSALEM -- Israel's Foreign Ministry announced on Thursday that Oman opened its airspace to Israeli flights after months-long talks, despite the absence of official ties between the two nations.

In a statement posted on Twitter, Oman's Civil Aviation Authority confirmed that the sultanate opened its airspace "for all carriers that meet the requirements of the Authority for overflying." (Israel-Oman-Airspace Opening) Enditem

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