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Haniyeh: Rafah to open 12 hrs daily

July 28, 2012 1:54 P.M. (Updated: July 31, 2012 2:11 P.M.)
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) -- Egypt will follow a new policy on the Rafah crossing between it and the Gaza Strip, and the people of Gaza will experience changes in travel procedures and times, says prime minister of the Hamas-run government in the Gaza Strip Ismail Haniyeh.

Speaking to the Gaza-based Hamas-affiliated Palestine newspaper following a meeting with Egyptian President Muhammad Mursi, Haniyeh said that the crossing would operate 12 hours a day, from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Further, the number of travelers leaving the enclave will rise to 1,500 a day, and all arrivals from abroad will be let in. "Sixty percent of the Gazan citizens blacklisted by Egypt and denied entry have been removed from the list," Haniyeh added.

In addition, he said, an agreement has been reached that any Palestinian citizen who arrives in Egypt from other countries will be granted a 72-hour visa, so as to make travel arrangements and avoid been deported.

The electricity crisis was also discussed, he said.

"Three major steps will be carried out to solve the power crisis starting with an increase in the amount of fuel to Gaza’s power plant in tandem with amplifying the power grid from Egypt to Gaza from 22 to 30 megawatt. After that, a gas pipeline will be built to provide Egyptian natural gas to the sole power plant in the coastal enclave. Then, the Gaza Strip will be connected to the joint Arab grid known as the 8th grid."

Haniyeh and Mursi discussed as well reopening the Egyptian consulate in Gaza City which had been shut down since the Israeli military offensive on Gaza, according to Haniyeh.

He hinted that he discussed with Mursi the issue of smuggling tunnels under the borders with Egypt.

"The tunnels were a temporary phenomenon created when the Palestinians lost all elements of life. They used them to fulfill their needs, and it is their natural right, but if the siege on Gaza is ended, these tunnels will be needless."
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