Israel has agreed to allow Palestinians stranded in Egypt for weeks to pass into Israel and then into the Gaza Strip, officials said Saturday. Palestinian Information Minister Riad Maliki said that some of the 6,000 Palestinians who have been waiting in the Egyptian border town of Rafah would be allowed to pass at the beginning of next week.
Kerem Shalom becomes main crossing
Hamas, which took over the Gaza Strip last month, did not immediately comment on the deal.
Israel has agreed in principle to their passage, if the names are first approved in lists the Palestinians must compile, Maliki said. The Palestinians would pass from Egypt into Israel, then into the northern Gaza Strip through the Erez crossing, he said.
Israel did not immediately comment on the deal. Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Mark Regev would only say that Israel was searching for "creative solutions" to return the Palestinians to Gaza.
"No one wants to see those people trapped indefinitely," Regev said.
Israel has already approved a list of 627 Palestinians who will be allowed to cross at the beginning of next week, said a Palestinian Authority official in Egypt.
On Sunday, 100 will cross and the rest will pass on Monday, the official said since he was not authorized to discuss the matter with the press.
Israel has indicated that it will approve the transfer of more Palestinians through Israel, the official said.
The Palestinians have been unable to return to Gaza because of the closure of the Rafah border terminal between Egypt and the Gaza Strip since June 9.
Hamas had rejected an Israeli idea that the stranded Palestinians be rerouted through the Kerem Shalom crossing, near the meeting point of Gaza, Egypt and Israel.