Egypt plans to open a consulate in Gaza City once the new Fatah-Hamas unity government is formed, the Palestinian Authority -run Maan News Agency reported Thursday.
Egyptian ambassador to the Palestinian Authority Yasser Othman told the Arabic-language newspaper Al-Hal the office would be a branch of the consular seat in Ramallah, and could be opened shortly after the new unified PA cabinet is announced.
According to Al-Hal, which is released by Birzeit University's Center for Media Development in Ramallah, Othman said the principal task of the office would be to coordinate travel permits for men between 18-40, who are currently not permitted to pass freely through the Rafiah crossing that connects Gaza to the Sinai.
The Rafiah crossing was opened for travelers by Egypt's interim junta for the first time in four years on May 28 in a populist move widely regarded as a diplomatic slap in Israel's face. Opening a consulate in Gaza would be a second such slap.
"It should be clear, however, that the formation of a new government and the implementation of the reconciliation agreement, will herald more gestures [from Egypt to the PA -Ed] including the implementation of new mechanisms at Rafiah to improve the situation in Gaza," Othman told Al-Hal.
"A comprehensive review of the blacklist will also be initiated," Othman was quoted as saying. At present some 5,000 Gaza Arabs, mostly known terrorists, are officially prohibited from passing into Egypt via the Rafaih crossing
"The number of prohibited travelers will be reduced to a minimum in accordance with our security requirements," Othman said.