EU Countries Pushing to Reactivate Mission on Gaza's Rafah Crossing

While Cairo might consider easing crossing's restrictions, Hamas' request for allowing normal flow of trade unlikely to be accepted, Egyptian sources say.

Reuters
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Palestinians search destroyed cars in Rafah's district of Shawkah in the southern Gaza Strip. August 5, 2014.
Palestinians search destroyed cars in Rafah's district of Shawkah in the southern Gaza Strip. August 5, 2014.Credit: AP
Reuters
Reuters

Germany, France and Britain proposed reactivating a European Union mission to reopen the Rafah crossing on the Egypt-Gaza border to help stabilize the Palestinian enclave after a month-long war, a German diplomatic source said on Wednesday.

The source said German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier and counterparts in France and Britain favored restoring the crossing that is the main window to the world for isolated Gaza's 1.8 million Palestinians.

The so-called EU Border Assistance Mission in Rafah started work in 2005 to monitor the crossing point, as part of an accord worked out by Israel and the Western-backed Palestinian Authority. The operation was halted two years later when Hamas militants seized control of the Gaza Strip.

Egypt has repeatedly shut the border over the past year, significantly increasing pressure on Gazans, who already face a rigid land and sea blockade imposed by Israel.

Egyptian diplomatic sources said that while Cairo might consider easing restrictions on movement through Rafah, it was unlikely to accept Hamas' calls to allow a normal flow of trade.

Egypt insists that any discussion over Rafah take place bilaterally with the Palestinian Authority, a political rival of Hamas, rather than as part of any deal between the Palestinians and Israel to ease the Israeli blockade, the sources say.

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