World Bulletin/News Desk
The Hamas government in Gaza on Wednesday said it had invited the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority (PA) six years ago to co-run the Rafah border crossing with Egypt in hopes of persuading Cairo to keep the crossing open to Palestinian travelers.
Yousef Rizka, an adviser to the Hamas prime minister, said the idea was first floated by the Gaza government in 2007 after Israel tightened its blockade on the Palestinian enclave.
The Rafah border crossing represents the Gaza Strip's only gateway to the outside world. All other points into and out of the Palestinian territory remain blocked by Israel.
According to the 2007 proposal, PA presidential guards would help process Palestinian travelers entering Egypt, because then-president Hosni Mubarak recognized PA President Mahmoud Abbas.
The PA, however, turned down the offer, according to Rizka.
Rizka said a similar proposal was floated recently, as Egypt continues to frequently close the crossing, citing security concerns.
"I don't think the PA will respond positively this time either, as it is now trying to blackmail Hamas in the wake of the recent changes in Egypt and the Arab region," he said.
The Gaza Strip – home to some 1.7 million inhabitants – has suffered under a crippling Israeli blockade since 2007, forcing residents to dig underground tunnels along the borders with Egypt through which to bring badly needed food, medicine and fuel into the territory.
Since the Egyptian army's July 3 ouster of elected President Mohamed Morsi, however, the Egyptian military has cracked down hard on the Gaza tunnels, bringing smuggling activity to a relative standstill.
Rizka also ruled out the possibility that Egypt might take military action against the Gaza Strip over allegations that Hamas was harboring fugitive members of the Muslim Brotherhood, the group from which Morsi hails.
"Egypt will not intervene militarily in Gaza, he asserted. "Egypt and Hamas might have diametrically opposed positions concerning the Muslim Brotherhood, but Egypt would never resort to military action [in Gaza]."Last Mod: 25 Eylül 2013, 18:06