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Egypt not a party to 2005 Rafah agreement

EU official: The 2005 agreement on the Rafah crossing has not been officially signed by the Palestinian Authority or Israel.

The Head of the EU's Border Assistance Mission at the Rafah Crossing Point (EU BAM), Gerhard Schlaudraff, revealed that the Agreed Principles for the Rafah Crossing that were reached in 2005 to manage the crossing between the Gaza Strip and Egypt have not been signed officially by the key players, namely the Palestinian Authority and Israel, and that Egypt is not a party to the agreement.

During a panel discussion about the agreement that was organised by the Pal Think Centre for Strategic Studies in Gaza last Friday, Schlaudraff said: "The Agreed Principles are not related to Egypt, and the key players who have agreed on the formula for operating the crossing are the Palestinian Authority, Israel and the EU, who is represented by the EU BAM."

He pointed out that a final draft of the agreement for managing the crossing was reached during a consultation session, but the agreement has not been officially signed by any of the attending, and relevant, parties.

The newly appointed head of the European Commission noted that the role of the mission was limited to supervising and controlling the Palestinian Authority's implementation of the crossing, as well as applying the same rules for international borders that are applied in countries all over the world, and ensuring the implementation of what has been agreed upon.

He stressed that the mission is not actually required for the operation of the crossing, asserting that its members are ready to return to their home countries if the parties involved agree to run it without their presence, and pointing out that both the Egyptian party and the Palestinian party, represented by the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah, are demanding that Palestinian reconciliation takes place before the crossing becomes operational again. At that point the Palestinian Authority would be the party that will entirely manage the crossing.

Schlaudraff added: "The former Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad supports the implementation of a shared vision between Gaza and Ramallah that would lead to the opening of the crossing and its continued operation without reconciliation as a condition, which is in accordance with the 2005 agreement that was implemented after Israel's withdrawal from the Gaza Strip." However he pointed out that Fayyad has faced stiff opposition from both Fatah and the PA in Ramallah which is preventing the application of this vision.

Middle EastNews
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