Independents contact Egypt to contain Rafah crisis

Published 03/06/2011 00:51

GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — A coalition of independent figures are holding talks with Egypt to overcome obstacles preventing Palestinians from crossing at the Rafah terminal between Egypt and Gaza.

The group is asking people to be patient while the Egyptian side resumes operations via the crossing as planned, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. throughout the week excluding Fridays and holidays.

Officials at the Palestinian embassy to Egypt said Wednesday that contacts were being made with authorities over the publication of a list of 5,000 people prevented from travel through the Rafah crossing.

Sources said there were already promises from Cairo to review the names on the list, which were principally Gaza residents currently inside the coastal enclave. If on the blacklist, a Palestinian cannot receive permission to travel.

Representative of Palestine in Cairo Mohammad Arafat said the situation was being handled delicately, following Egyptian insistence that all efforts already made came in the face of immense pressure from Israel and the United States.

“Egypt is under Israeli and US pressure to close Rafah and to keep the situation as it was after June 2007,” Arafat told Ma’an, noting there were continuing efforts to optimize the current crossing situation.

“We are asking that the number of officers working at the crossing be increased,” the official said, after an announcement from Egypt that the number allowed to cross per day would be capped at 400.

Despite snags in the process, Arafat said the PA continued to “express gratitude and appreciation” for the May decision to open the crossing, after four years of strict conditions on entry and exit from Gaza.

Egypt opened the crossing following the May 4 signing of a deal to reunify the two Palestinian governments, returning the West Bank and Gaza to a single authority.

The deal officially resolved the split between Fatah and Hamas, whose delegates have been meeting in Cairo and Gaza City to iron out details on the formation of the new government.


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