'Border breach won't happen again'

Egypt blames Palestinians, Israel, and the European Union for recent border crisis at Rafah.

fallen Gaza fence 224 (photo credit: AP)
fallen Gaza fence 224
(photo credit: AP)
Egypt will resist any fresh attempts by the Palestinians to breach its border with Gaza, warned a presidential spokesman Sunday blaming the Palestinians, Israel and the European Union for last month's crisis on its frontiers with Gaza. Suleiman Awwad, a spokesman for President Hosni Mubarak said Egypt allowed the Palestinians to cross the border because of their "humanitarian sufferings" and the breaching of the frontier was a "reaction against the Israeli siege," he told reporters after a meeting between the president and the EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana. "That will not happen again, never," Awwad said. "Egypt is a respected state, its border cannot be breached and its soldiers should not be lobbed with stones," he said. On Sunday Egyptian troops closed the last gap in Egypt's border with the Gaza Strip, ending 11 days of free movement for Palestinian residents of the blockaded territory. Solana is in Cairo for talks with Egyptian and Arab League's officials on the Gaza border crisis and Awwad called on the EU to work with Israel and the Palestinians to resolve the dispute. "The Palestinians' sufferings cannot continue, the Israeli practices cannot continue, the ball is now in the court of the EU and Hamas," said Awwad. After his talks with the Arab League chief Amr Moussa, Solana said the EU is ready to resume its role on the crossing. "We are ready to continue work in case, there is an agreement," said Solana. Solana is leaving later in the day to Tel Aviv for talks with Israeli and Palestinian leaders. Israel has blockaded Gaza since it was taken over by the hard-line Hamas group in June. Last month, Israel tightened the sanctions in response to a spike in rocket fire, restricting some humanitarian supplies that had previously been allowed in and cutting off the trickle of commercial goods still making it into Gaza from Israel. Last week, Hamas operatives broke open the blockade by blowing up the partition along Gaza's border with Egypt. The breach allowed hundreds of thousands of Gazans free access to Egypt, where they purchased huge supplies of food and fuel. Under a US-brokered agreement between Israel and the Palestinians, the crossing was operated by Egypt and the Palestinians, with EU monitors deployed on the Palestinian side. During Hamas' takeover, the Europeans fled and Hamas took over the terminal. In talks in Cairo this week, Egyptian officials failed to convince both Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas leaders to end their rivalry so that they could cooperate in running the crossing. Hamas, now the de facto force in Gaza, has said the 2005 agreement is a history and refuses any Israeli role on the border.