Members of Palestinian security forces stand at Rafah border crossing with Egypt, in the southern Gaza Strip November 1, 2017.
(photo credit: IBRAHEEM ABU MUSTAFA/REUTERS)
Seeking to resolve the security problem that has prevented the opening of the Rafah crossing, a delegation of European Union officials arrived in Israel and the Palestinian territories on Thursday.
Redeployment of the long defunct EU Board Assistance Mission (EUBAM) at Rafah is one the possibilities they are considering.
“We are deploying a high-level diplomatic mission this week to discuss with key interlocutors on the ground the political and security conditions and the expectations of the relevant parties in view of a possible redeployment of [EUBAM] at Rafah, including possible EU financial assistance,” the EU said in a statement.
In the run up to the November 21 Cairo meeting of Palestinian factions, the EU is seeking ways to support the reconciliation efforts between Fatah and Hamas.
“We expect all Palestinian factions to work together in good faith towards that goal, and to refrain from any irresponsible actions or rhetoric that could distract from this important process and that would jeopardize collective efforts to improve the situation of the people of Gaza,” the EU said.
“Opening all crossing points, under the management and control of the Palestinian Authority, will be crucial for freedom of movement for the people of Gaza, and for enabling the Palestinian Authority to resume its full responsibilities in Gaza and achieve intra-Palestinian reconciliation,” it said.
From 2005 to 2007, EUBAM monitored the Rafah crossing between Egypt and Gaza, to ensure that security was upheld and that no arms were smuggled in through that border.
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The mission left after Hamas took over Gaza in a bloody coup in 2007 and has never returned. Initially it kept open its headquarters in Ashkelon, but eventually closed it.
The mission itself, however, remains open and has a budget of 1.98 million euros through 2018.
Former EUBAM head Kenneth Deane, civilian operations director for the European External Action Service, has been the liaison for talks between Israel, the Palestinians and Egypt over issues relating to the crossing.
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