Palestinian official: Gaza border deal reached with Egypt

2015-11-17 07:15


Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Ramallah - A senior Palestinian official on Monday said the Palestinian Authority had reached an agreement with Egypt to reopen the Gaza Strip's main border crossing in an arrangement meant to bypass the territory's Hamas rulers.

Azzam al-Ahmad, an aide to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, said the deal was reached recently in Cairo. He said it aims to open the Rafah crossing "to the maximum possible" to allow the movement of students, labourers, medical patients and even commercial goods.

Such a deal could bring great relief to Gaza, whose borders are largely sealed by an Israeli and Egyptian blockade. It could also mark a setback for Hamas, which seized control of Gaza from Abbas in 2007. However, a top Hamas official gave the plan a cool reception, raising questions about its viability.

The Rafah crossing is Gaza's main gateway to the outside world. Few Gazans are permitted to travel through the Israeli border to the north, though Israeli crossings are used to transfer cargo into Gaza.

Egypt has kept the Rafah crossing virtually sealed since the 2013 military overthrow of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi, who was a close ally of Hamas. Due to the closure, thousands of Gazans are waiting to travel abroad.

Azzam said the deal would be implemented in stages beginning in the near future, but he gave no further details.

Hamas, a heavily armed group that is shunned as a terrorist organization by the West, remains in full control of Gaza, and the internationally backed Palestinian Authority, which governs in the West Bank, has no presence there. Repeated attempts to reconcile the rival governments have failed.

With his announcement, Azzam appeared to be trying to put pressure on Hamas to accept the deal. If Hamas doesn't agree, he said, "Hamas will have to answer to the Gazan people."

Ghazi Hamad, a senior Hamas official in Gaza, said the group has not been officially informed of the deal, but indicated it would oppose it. "Any arrangement in Rafah cannot be done without proper co-ordination," he said.

Egyptian officials could not immediately be reached for comment. But in a statement issued after a November 8 meeting between Abbas and Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi, Cairo confirmed the issue had been discussed.

El-Sisi "made it clear that the return of the Palestinian Authority to the Gaza Strip and its assumption of supervision over the crossings, in line with international resolutions, will have a positive impact", it said at the time.

Read more on:    hamas  |  israel  |  egypt  |  palestine  |  north africa

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

Inside News24


WATCH: Man films himself going down water slide upside down as things go very wrong…

What is at first an exciting tummy-turning adventure stunt, quickly turns into a scarily bad idea caught on camera. Take a look:


You won't want to miss...

Best date night restaurants in South Africa
WATCH: Ryan Reynolds offers fans a free tattoo in new Deadpool 2 teaser
Should you date your co-worker?
Hip Cape Town bars to discover this summer
Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.