Germany, France, Britain propose EU mission to open Gaza-Egypt crossing

By REUTERS
August 6, 2014 19:09

The EU Border Assistance Mission in Rafah worked from 2005 to 2007 to monitor the Rafah crossing, but ended when Hamas took control.

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Gazans return home via Rafah crossing

Rafah crossing 370. (photo credit:Ibraheem Abu Mustafa/Reuters)

BERLIN - Germany, France and Britain have proposed reactivating a European Union mission 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 Paris and London favored restoring EU operations at the Rafah crossing that is the main window to the world for Gaza's 1.8 million Palestinians.

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A two-day-old Gaza ceasefire was holding on Wednesday as Egyptian mediators pursued talks with Israeli and Palestinian envoys on an enduring end to a war in which Israeli shelling wrecked whole areas of the Islamist Hamas-dominated territory.

The 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 terrorists 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.

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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