'Reopening Rafah crossing depends on Israel's approval'

Palestinian minister of prisoners' affairs under the caretaker government based in this West Bank city said Thursday that reopening the Rafah crossing in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip was subject to Israel's approval.

'Reopening Rafah crossing depends on Israel's approval'
According to Ashraf al-Ajrami, the Rafah border crossing between Gaza and Egypt can be reopened based on the 2005 U.S.-brokered Agreement on Movement and Access, which gives the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Egypt the control on the terminal with European monitors as third party.

"The issue of the crossing is complicated because the agreement involves four sides which must approve the opening and we think the problem was at the Israeli side," al-Ajrami said.

"If Israel has accepted, there will be no opposition by Egypt or the Europeans," he added.

After June when Hamas defeat Fatah militants and took control of the Gaza Strip, the European monitors left the crossing as the EU deems Hamas as a terrorist organization and is not willing to deal with its administration.

Following the Hamas takeover, Israel closed all crossing points in and out of the Strip, including Rafah, the only crossing in the Strip that allows Palestinians there to leave for the outside world bypassing Israel.

The closure was the longest and the tightest in Gaza history.

But it was reopened this week for the first time since June to allow Palestinian Hajj pilgrims to leave for Saudi holy city Mecca through Egypt.

About 700 Palestinian pilgrims from the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip have passed to Egypt through the Rafah crossing on Monday morning.

The reopening resulted from an undisclosed pact between Hamas and Egypt. It has reportedly embarrassed President Mahmoud Abbas and his interim government since they were planning to organize the pilgrimage through Israel and prevent any role by Hamas.

Meanwhile, there was reports saying that the Rafah crossing maybe reopened again on Friday for patients and wounded people.


Güncelleme Tarihi: 06 Aralık 2007, 18:20