Accessibility links

Breaking News

Abbas Government Says Arabs Support Plan to Take Over Gaza Borders

Close aides to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas say they have received backing from Arab governments to take over crossing points and borders in the Gaza Strip between Israel and Egypt. VOA's Jim Teeple reports from Jerusalem.

Aides to Mahmoud Abbas say following ministerial-level talks in Cairo, they have received support from Arab governments to take control of crossing points between the Gaza Strip and Israel, and the border crossing at Rafah between Gaza and Egypt.

Over the past week, hundreds of thousands of Palestinians have crossed into Egypt at Rafah after Hamas militants blew up the border wall there.

Riad Malki a close aide to Mr. Abbas told the Voice of Palestine radio on Monday that Rafah should remain open but under close supervision.

Malki says the U.S. brokered 2005 border agreement at Rafah should be revived, which put the border under the supervision of Mr. Abbas' Palestinian Authority, Egyptian officials and European Union monitors.

Malki also says Hamas should be excluded from any involvement at the Rafah border. Mr. Abbas has ruled out any talks with Hamas until the group agrees to give up power in Gaza and restore his authority there.

Hamas leaders have rejected any suggestion they not be involved in helping to run the Rafah crossing. Speaking to VOA recently senior Hamas official Ahmed Yousef said Hamas needs to be included in any agreement.

"We told the Egyptians we are willing to sit with the people in Ramallah [Abbas representatives] with them mediating the situation to see how we can accommodate the situation in a way that we both feel like it is a win-win victory," said Yousef.

European Union officials say they would consider sending monitors back to Rafah, but only if it safe to do so and only if Hamas is not involved at the border. EU monitors were withdrawn from Rafah last year during the fighting between Hamas and Mr. Abbas' Fatah organization, when Hamas seized control of Gaza. The EU like much of the rest of the international community considers Hamas to be a terrorist organization because of its refusal to recognize Israel or renounce violence.

Israeli officials say for now they expect Egypt to close the Rafah border. They say they will not comment on Mr. Abbas' proposal to take over all of Gaza's crossing points and borders, until he concludes talks with Egyptian officials on Wednesday. Mr. Abbas and Hamas leaders will hold separate talks with Egyptian leaders in a bid to solve the border issue.