Hamas accepts EU at crossing point if they reside in Gaza or Egypt

Other News Materials 2 February 2008 14:48 (UTC +04:00)

( dpa ) - The Hamas movement which controls the Gaza Strip would accept the return of European Union (EU) monitors to the Rafah border crossing if they reside in Egypt or in the salient, a senior negotiator from the Islamist movement said Saturday.

At the same time, Mohammed Nasser, said, Hamas officials negotiating the future of the crossing point told their Egyptian counterparts in Cairo, where the talks are being held, that the movement has reservations about the international agreement requiring the monitors to be preset at the border point.

The Hamas delegation has not received clarifications on its reservations, Nasser said. The delegation is expected to return to Gaza on Saturday without holding talks with a Palestinian Authority delegation, which is also in Cairo negotiating the future of the border crossing.

The discussion on the future of Rafah come after Hamas militants blew huge holes on January 23 in the border fence separating the Gaza Strip from Egypt. Hundred of thousands of Gazans took advantage of the now-porous border to pour into Egypt to buy items made scarce by a tight Israeli closure of the enclave.

The EU monitors left the Rafah crossing in June last year when Hamas seized control of Gaza after after routing forces loyal to President Mahmoud Abbas, in five days of savage fighting. The takeover led Abbas to pull his Fatah party out of a Hamas-led unity government, and the two movements have been at loggerheads ever since.

Abbas rejects any role for Hamas in a new agreement over Rafah, and has stressed that he wants to reactivate the previous deal, from 2006, which sees his officials at the crossing point alongside the EU monitors. Hamas however says the 23006 deal is no longer valid.