Official Palestinian sources have confirmed that Egypt has formally rejected proposals for the establishment of a free trade zone on its border with the Gaza Strip as a means of solving Gaza’s economic problems. The sources state that during Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh’s visit to Cairo last week, he was informed by the Egyptian authorities that their decision was based on the fact that such a move would isolate the Gaza Strip from the rest of the Palestinian territories as an independent entity.
The sources also pointed to Egyptian fears that a Gaza Strip made economically independent through the establishment of a free trade zone with Egypt would be exploited by Israel. It would be forcibly annexed to Egypt as a means of solving the demographic problem in the sector, at Egypt’s expense. Gaza would then be used to accommodate Palestinians returning from abroad, such as Palestinians fleeing the Syrian conflict and those returning from Lebanon.