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Deal to open Rafah crossing 'close'

March 7, 2015 2:10 P.M. (Updated: March 7, 2015 9:10 P.M.)
CAIRO (Ma'an) -- Sources privy to talks between the Islamic Jihad delegation and Egyptian authorities in Cairo said a deal regarding Rafah crossing is beginning to formulate.

The two groups started discussions in Cairo on March 1 to address the need for Egyptian authorities to open the Rafah crossing between Egypt and the Gaza Strip, a need that has taken particular urgency due to the detrimental impact of movement restrictions on the reconstruction of the war-torn areas of the strip.

Sources said that Egyptian authorities agreed in principle to opening the crossing on regular basis soon, before opening it completely on the long run when Sinai calms.

Opening the crossing will be contingent on the role of the unity government in its operation, and reliant on a commitment by Hamas to stop interfering in internal Egyptian issues, sources added.

Hamas has agreed to let the presidential guards to take charge, as part of a comprehensive plan to merge employees from West Bank and Gaza Strip.

The Rafah crossing into Egypt has been the principal connection between Gaza's 1.8 million residents and the outside world since the imposition of an Israeli blockage on the strip since 2007.

Rising tensions in Egypt, however, have led to continual closures of the crossing, as Egyptian authorities accuse Hamas of aiding militants waging a string of deadly attacks on security forces in the Sinai Peninsula.

The blockage by both Israel and Egypt is detrimental for the residents of Gaza, who struggle to rebuild after Israel's massive assault on Gaza over the summer, which left over 2,200 Palestinians dead and an estimated 110,000 homeless.
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