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Hamas slams rumored PA, Egypt 'unilateral' Rafah crossing agreement

Nov. 18, 2015 5:38 P.M. (Updated: Nov. 20, 2015 9:44 P.M.)
A file photo of Palestinians waiting at the Rafah crossing.(MaanImages)
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) -- The Hamas movement on Wednesday slammed rumors that the Palestinian Authority and Egyptian government, without consulting Hamas, had allegedly come to an agreement to reopen the border crossing between the Gaza Strip and Egypt.

During a press conference in Gaza City, Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said the movement had not been notified of any new initiatives regarding the Rafah crossing between Egypt and the Gaza Strip.

Abu Zuhri called the plan a "unilateral arrangement" that "ignored the reality on the ground," and implied that Hamas would oppose any Rafah agreements made without Hamas involvement.

Reports regarding the alleged agreement between Egypt and the Palestinian Authority on potentially reopening Rafah crossing have cited the information to senior Fatah official Azzam al-Ahmad.

Al-Ahmad was quoted as saying said that President Mahmoud Abbas and Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi agreed on a mechanism to open the Rafah crossing during Abbas' latest visit to Cairo.

The supposed agreement has not been confirmed or denied by other PA officials.

In a statement released by Sisi following a meeting with Abbas earlier this month, the Egyptian president said he and Abbas had discussed ongoing activities on Egypt's eastern borders, where the Egyptian army has helped maintain's Israel's crippling blockade of the Gaza Strip.

The Egyptian president told Abbas at the time that activities there along the border were intended to "secure the borders," and were being carried out in full coordination with the Palestinian Authority.

These activities "could never be meant to harm the Palestinian brothers in the Gaza Strip," Sisi said, according to the statement.

The Egyptian president added that if the PA were to take control of the Gaza Strip -- which is currently controlled by Hamas -- it could improve living conditions in Gaza and allow for borders to operate "normally," allowing the people of Gaza their daily needs.

Egypt has very rarely opened the Rafah crossing into Gaza, while its army has destroyed hundreds of smuggling tunnels along the border.

The smuggling tunnels have served as a lifeline to the outside world for Gaza's 1.8 million inhabitants since Israel began its military blockade in 2007.

Hamas has suffered poor relations with the Egyptian government ever since the democratically-elected Muslim Brotherhood, with whom they were closely allied, was thrown out of power in July 2013.
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