The Arab Affairs Committee of the People’s Assembly in Cairo has recommended making a legal study of the crossings between Egypt and Gaza and how they operate. The purpose is to facilitate the transportation of humanitarian aid to the Palestinian people and to supply Gaza with fuel, on the assumption that the Israeli occupying power will refuse to fulfil its legal obligations to provide protection and basic services to the besieged territory.
Jamal Hanafi MP, a member of the committee in the Egyptian Assembly, said that his country must continue to play its role in providing humanitarian aid to the people of the Gaza Strip through the Rafah border crossing.
An assistant to Egypt’s Foreign Minister urged some caution, however. Ambassador Baha El Desoki said that while the Gaza Strip represents an important dimension of Egypt’s national and international interests, Cairo is dealing with Gaza as a sector that is under Israeli occupation. As such, Egypt must do all it can to ease the effects of the siege while still exercising political pressure on the international community to bring about its end to allow full and free delivery of humanitarian aid to the Palestinians.
The Secretary-General for Palestinian affairs and the Occupied Territories at the Arab League, Ambassador Mohamed Sabih, stressed the importance of unifying the Arab stances in the international arena. The Arab world, he said, has to support the Palestinian people’s right to life and an independent state, and work to begin lifting the siege on Gaza. Israel must not be given the opportunity to divert the world’s attention by talking about what it calls the “problems” of the crossings in order to undermine the Palestinian cause and hold Jordan and Egypt responsible.
Sabih added that it is important for Palestinian reconciliation to become a reality in order to tackle this issue and confront Israel over its divisive policies.
The discussions in the People’s Assembly also revealed the level of suffering experienced by the children of the Gaza Strip under the Israeli siege. Not only is their education disrupted due to a lack of building materials to repair and rebuild buildings damaged by Israel, as well as educational resources, but there are also social and health dimensions to the siege which have a particular effect on children.