An official in the European Union said that the redeployment of Rafah crossing border in Gaza Strip between Palestine and Egypt will take place within the framework of the 2005 agreement, with a permanent presence of an EU delegation there.
EU Media Representative in Palestine Shadi Othman told Asharq Al-Awsat that the EU mission to the Rafah crossing is ready for redeployment within the framework of the 2005 agreement if the Palestinian and Israeli sides agree.
Othman’s comments were made after an inspection visit by a 12-person European delegation on Wednesday to Rafah crossing border.
The delegation arrived in Gaza Strip through Erez/Beit Hanoun crossing with Israel to check up Rafah border crossing with Egypt.
The EU delegation visit is coordinated with the consensus Palestinian government, which assumed its administrative responsibilities in the Gaza Strip following a reconciliation agreement between rival Fatah and Hamas parties under Egyptian auspices in Cairo, in October, Othman explained.
According to the agreement, Hamas, who has been controlling the Rafah border since it took over the Strip in 2007, will hand over the border to the consensus government by October 31.
It also agreed to hand over the Rafah crossing, the main exit port for Gaza’s two million population, to the Palestinian government, which will run it along with Egypt and under European Union (EU) supervision. EU personnel are expected to monitor movement of Palestinians at the crossing.
Egypt opens the crossing for few days every three or four months, making travel of Gazans almost impossible. However, once the government takes it over and the EU monitors are present there, the crossing is expected to be open continuously.
During his current visit, EU Civilian Operations Commander Kenneth Deane met with PA officials, including General Director of Palestinian Crossing and Borders Authority Nazmi Muhanna and Israeli officials to discuss the future of the crossing border and its mechanism of action.
There is no specific time to hand over and redeploy the Rafah crossing, Othman said, stressing that logistical arrangements are needed.
The EU delegation said it is assigned to provide border assistance by being available at the Rafah crossing border as a third party to help build trust between the Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority in several ways, including developing Palestinian capabilities in all aspects of border management in Rafah.