Daily Israel Report

Fatah Asks Egypt to End Siege of Gaza

Fatah delegation in Cairo to ask for Rafah Crossing opening, as Hamas terrorists feared trying to bring kidnapped teens to Gaza.
By Ari Yashar
First Publish: 6/18/2014, 8:29 AM

Azzam al-Ahmed (file)
Azzam al-Ahmed (file)
Flash 90

Palestinian Authority (PA) Chairman Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah faction has sent a delegation to Egypt to discuss opening the Rafah Crossing between Gaza and Sinai, even as terrorists in the Hamas-enclave continue firing rockets at Israel.

The delegation arrived in Cairo and is led by Fatah leader Azzam al-Ahmed, who represented Fatah in the reconciliation signed with Hamas in April and led negotiations in forming the unity government two weeks ago.

Leaders of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), a group recognized as representing the "Palestinian people" but which has never renounced terror, also are part of the delegation, according to a minister in the new unity government.

An Egyptian official revealed two weeks ago that newly elected President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi's administration strongly supports the new Hamas-Fatah unity government, and is considering giving it supervision of the Rafah Crossing.

The Crossing has been closed for months as part of an Egyptian siege on Gaza, which has sealed off the illegal smuggling tunnels that are used to transport fuel and goods from Sinai, but also weapons and terrorists, and has consequently caused an economic collapse in Gaza.

As part of Egypt's conditions for easing its siege, Abbas would be required to re-open presidential headquarters in Gaza, said the official.

Additionally, the official stipulated that Hamas would have to separate from the Muslim Brotherhood, which it is an offshoot of, and not interfere with Egyptian affairs.

Israel has partially closed the Kerem Shalom Crossing and the Erez Crossing to Gaza out of concern that the Hamas terrorists who kidnapped the three Israeli teens last Thursday might abscond to the Hamas enclave with them.

Unconfirmed Arab reports on Monday suggested that Israel contacted Egypt to help negotiate the return of the three youths, even as Egyptian Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Badr Abdellaty said Monday that Israel must show "maximum self-restraint" in trying to rescue the three.

Sisi has said there is a chance for "true peace" with Israel if it adopts the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative, which demanded Israel withdraw from Judea and Samaria, at which point the Arab states would supposedly recognize it. He added that he would be willing to change the peace agreement with Israel.