'Egypt to open Rafah border crossing by weekend'

Decision to open Gaza crossing "part of efforts to end status of the Palestinian division," Egyptian news agency reports.

By REUTERS
May 25, 2011 21:05
1 minute read.
Egyptian forcesguard the Rafah crossing in Gaza.

rafah border crossing_311 reuters. (photo credit: Ismail Zaydah / Reuters)

 
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Egypt will open its border with the Gaza Strip "on a daily basis" starting from May 28, the state MENA news agency said on Wednesday, to "ease entry restrictions for Palestinians."

Under former president Mubarak, Egypt only sporadically opened up the Rafah border crossing for food and medicine, or to let through people, mainly those seeking medical treatment or travelling to study.

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'Egypt to permanently open Rafah border crossing'

"Egyptian authorities have decided to extend the working hours at the Rafah border crossing starting from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on a daily basis, except for Fridays and official holidays, starting on Saturday, May 28," MENA said.

It said the decision came as "part of Egyptian efforts to end divisions among Palestinians and to finalize their reconciliation."

Egypt brokered a reconciliation deal between Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah movement and its Hamas rivals that ended a four-year rift.

The Egyptian Foreign Ministry earlier this month said that Cairo planned to open the Rafah border crossing permanently to ease life for Palestinians under an Israeli blockade. But it said that the mechanics of such a move were being worked out.



MENA said that Egyptian authorities have also decided to allow all Palestinian men over the age of 40 and those under the age of 18 to travel to Egypt from anywhere in the world without a visa. Women of all ages will be exempt from visas, it said.

Students of all ages with letters of acceptance from Egyptian universities will also be allowed to enter Egypt with any restrictions.

But the agency said that thousands of Palestinians trapped in war-torn Libya will continue to be subject to the same regulations that exist now "due to the existing conditions which require them to receive an advanced visa for all age groups."

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