Thursday, April 28, 2011

Egypt to open Gaza crossing and sending team to help implement reconciliation Fatah-Hamas

Nabil al-Arabi
Egypt's foreign minister said in an interview with Al-Jazeera on Thursday that preparations were underway to open the Rafah border crossing with Gaza on a permanent basis. Egyptian Foreign Minister Nabil al-Arabi told Al-Jazeera that within seven to 10 days, steps will be taken in order to alleviate the "blockade and suffering of the Palestinian nation."
The opening of Rafah will allow the flow of people and goods in and out of Gaza without Israeli permission or supervision, which has not been the case up until now.
Before Egypt's uprising and ousting of longtime leader Hosni Mubarak, the border between Egypt and Gaza had been sealed. It has occasionally opened the passage for limited periods.
An Egyptian security source in Cairo said that Egypt will also send a security team to the Gaza Strip to help implement the reconciliation agreement reached by rival Palestinian groups Fatah and Hamas.Restructuring and unifying security forces in Hamas-run Gaza is a key condition for the success of the accord, brokered by Egypt on Wednesday to overcome a rift that had stifled a Palestinian drive for independence.
"An Egyptian security delegation will head to Gaza to help settle and organize the internal security situation there, now that the reconciliation agreement is finally in place," the security source, who declined to be identified, told Reuters press Agency. He said the security team would seek to meld the disparate security forces belonging to Palestinian factions in Gaza, but declined to explain how.
The deal provides for the creation of a non-factional professional security which would be subject to scrutiny by the Palestinian legislature. Another security source said the team would consist of specialists from various branches of the Egyptian army. Like in a previous mission that ended in 2007, Egypt's intelligence service will oversee the team's work in Gaza.
Abbas met with the head of Egypt's ruling military council, Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, earlier this month to discuss reconciliation efforts. "This was a very important meeting and it laid out Egypt's role in the coming period as the agreement is carried out," the first security source said.

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