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Egypt criticises UN envoy's call to open Rafah crossing

The Egyptian foreign ministry has criticised the UN’s Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Robert Serry, after he called for the Rafah Crossing with the Gaza Strip to be opened. Ministry spokesman Bader Abdul-Ati said that it is Egypt’s “inherent right to take all measures needed to protect its borders and people.” He called the closure of the Rafah crossing “a basic sovereign act.”

On Monday, Serry called for Egypt, Israel and the international community to change their policies towards the Gaza Strip. The envoy had just ended a two-day visit to the besieged territory when he made his statement.

“I call urgently on all stakeholders,” he said, “including… Palestinian factions, Israel, Egypt, the international community and donors, to change their failed policies and adopt a ‘Gaza first’ strategy.”

Egypt’s response described Serry’s statement as an attempt to blame others for his “failure” to achieve success in his mission in the Gaza Strip. The government in Cairo also claimed that Serry has failed to achieve anything with Israel, which is the occupying power and is thus legally responsible for Gaza’s needs.

Nevertheless, Abdul-Ati repeated Egypt’s “supportive” stance towards the Palestinian issue. He pointed out that his country has a history of supporting the Palestinians and that it rejects the Israeli siege of the Gaza Strip. Egypt, he reminded journalists, hosted last year’s international Gaza donor conference in Cairo and has made “intensive” efforts with donor countries so that they fulfil their pledges.

According to UN envoy Serry, the siege imposed by Israel and Egypt and backed by the international community is the main cause of Gaza’s plight and ending it would lead to peace. “I am convinced that there can be no peace without addressing Gaza’s needs first,” he insisted.

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