Israel Refuses Egypt, PA Any Role in Operating Rafah Crossing – Report

Israeli tanks at the Rafah Crossing. (Photo: Israeli army's spokesperson's Unit, via Wikimedia Commons)

By Palestine Chronicle Staff  

Two sources told Axios that during a meeting of Israel’s security cabinet ahead of the talks in Egypt, “Netanyahu said he doesn’t agree to any role for the Palestinian Authority at the Rafah crossing.”

Israel has refused to allow the Palestinian Authority any role in operating the Rafah crossing in the southern Gaza Strip, according to the Axios news site, citing four US and Israeli officials.

This follows a meeting between US, Egyptian and Israeli officials in Cairo, Axios reported on Friday, adding that it was held as a result of a phone call two weeks ago between President Joe Biden and his Egyptian counterpart Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.

Sisi reportedly agreed to Biden’s request to resume the flow of aid trucks into Gaza through Israel, the report said. This comes after aid deliveries were halted two weeks ago in protest at Israel’s takeover of the Palestinian side of the Rafah crossing.

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Two sources told Axios that during a meeting of Israel’s security cabinet ahead of the talks in Egypt, “Netanyahu said he doesn’t agree to any role for the Palestinian Authority at the Rafah crossing.”

“This contradicted a policy approved in the war cabinet a few days earlier that said Israel would agree to the Rafah crossing being operated by any government entity other than Hamas,” said the news site.

List of 300 Vetted

The US and Israeli officials said that during the Cairo meeting, the US and Egypt “raised the possibility of reopening the crossing with Palestinians from Gaza who are not affiliated with Hamas and would be representatives of the Palestinian Authority.”

Israel said at the meeting that it was ready to vet the Palestinians who are on a list, prepared by the PA, of about 300 Palestinians from Gaza who “were vetted and ready to work at the crossing,” the US officials said.

They said Israel said it does not have a problem “with Palestinians who are affiliated with Fatah — Palestinian (Authority) President Mahmoud Abbas’ party and Hamas’ political rival — operating the crossing, but they wouldn’t agree to them doing it as official representatives of the Palestinian Authority.”

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Interim Solution

One Israeli official told Axios that Tel Aviv “proposed an interim solution could be for the Palestinians on the list to operate the crossing as ‘a local civilian committee’ instead.”

Egypt and the PA rejected the idea, with the Egyptians proposing a follow-up meeting with the director of intelligence for the Palestinian Authority, Maj. Gen. Majed al-Faraj, to discuss the issue.

The Israelis however refused “and said the government’s directive is not to hold any discussions about Gaza with the Palestinian Authority. They added they would need approval from Israel’s political leaders to hold such a meeting.”

An Israeli official said, “The discussions about the Rafah crossing were very tough and ended with no agreement.” But, said Axios, a US official said “there was some progress in the meeting in Cairo, including an agreement to increase the amount of humanitarian aid delivered from Egypt to Gaza through Israel.”

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Hamas Tunnels

A senior Israeli official also reportedly said Israel and the US presented information about the number of tunnels they claim to be between Egypt and Gaza. They “asked the Egyptians to destroy them in order to prevent weapons being smuggled to Hamas.”

The official told Axios that the Egyptians “played down” the issue and had earlier said “there were no such tunnels and that Israel was using the claims to justify its attack on Rafah.”

(The Palestine Chronicle)

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