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European Parliament delegation waiting for Egyptian approval to visit Gaza

January 31, 2014 at 1:45 pm

Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) have accused the Egyptian authorities of procrastination over their application for approval to visit Gaza via the Rafah border crossing. The visit is scheduled to go ahead in five days’ time and the MEPs have been waiting for a response from the Egyptians for almost fifty days.

A statement by the European Campaign to End the Siege on Gaza, which is organizing the delegation’s visit, said that it is still waiting for a response from Cairo. “We have not received any response from the Egyptian Foreign Ministry despite many contacts with Egyptian officials.” According to the Campaign group, this “indicates Egypt’s intention to hamper arrangements for this visit”.

Around 50 MEPs from 17 countries have indicated their desire to take part in the visit. Obviously, they have parliamentary commitments to attend to and plan for; that is why the Campaign organisers made contact with the Egyptian Foreign Ministry almost two months ago, in order to give everyone sufficient notice. Such an application, well in advance, complies with all the usual requirements of the Egyptian authorities but that doesn’t seem to have helped in this instance.

The MEPs have expressed surprise at what appears to be a deliberate snub to elected parliamentarians. They say that they will raise the issue in their national parliaments and demand an explanation from the Egyptians as to why they are being prevented from entering Gaza to see for themselves the humanitarian situation there. The delegation had hoped to visit Gaza to assess the effects of the blockade one year after Israel’s invasion.