Asharq Al-awsat English Middle-east and International News and Opinion from Asharq Al-awsat Newspaper

Palestinian Authority Strives to Establish Control, Security on Border Crossings

Palestinian Authority Strives to Establish Control, Security on Border Crossings

Sunday, 5 November, 2017 - 10:45
A Palestinian woman gestures as she asks for a travel permit to cross into Egypt through the Rafah border crossing. (Reuters)

Hamas refused on Saturday to heed to the 2005 Agreement on Movement and Access to open the Gaza–Egypt border under European presence, while the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority strives to secure security control over Gaza border crossings.

Hamas political bureau member Moussa Abou Marzouq said that the 2005 agreement has expired and it was not brought up in recent talks. He added that Egypt is not part of the border-related agreements.

Marzouq added in a brief statement that the crossing administration’s insistence on European presence is aimed at rooting in the Israeli one.

The agreement signed in November 2005 between the Palestinian Authority and Israel stipulates that the Rafah crossing will be opened and operated by the PA and Egypt, according to international standards. It was agreed that the European Union as a third party will monitor the crossing’s activity, including security-related matters.

It is assumed that the use of the Rafah crossing will be limited to Palestinians, with some exceptions which the Israeli government is given notice of, and with the approval of the Palestinian Authority.

According to the agreement, the Palestinian Authority should inform the Israeli government of the entry of visiting diplomats, foreign investors, foreign representatives of recognized international bodies and humanitarian organizations 48 hours before crossing.

In turn, the Israeli government has to respond within 24 hours on whether there are any objections along with relative justifications.

The deal, which is believed to anger Hamas, includes security coordination between Israel, the PA and United States. The PA will need to take into account any information concerning specific people provided by the Israeli government.

The PA should also consult with the Israelis and a third party before taking the decision on whether to prevent or allow certain figures to travel.

Vetting consultations should be limited to a six-hour timeframe.

The third party, the EU, would ensure that correct procedures are followed, as both parties are actively aware of any data relating to persons applying for transit under these exceptions.

At a later stage, the agreement also says that the Rafah border crossing will be used for exporting goods to Egypt, provided that objective criteria for vehicle inspection are established unanimously.

For years, Hamas refused to hand over the Rafah crossing under the terms laid out by the agreement.

The movement said it wants to take part in the crossing’s administration, without any European presence or Israeli intervention. But after a Fatah-Hamas reconciliation reached last month, Hamas handed the crossing over to the PA.

Editor Picks