Gaza's Rafah border to Egypt opens under Palestinian Authority

Cairo - The Gaza Strip's main Rafah crossing to Egypt opened Saturday under the control of the Palestinian Authority of President Mahmoud Abbas, for the first time in 10 years, after the Islamist Hamas movement handed over the reins this month.

The handover was part of a reconciliation agreement between Abbas' secular Fatah party, which dominates the West Bank, and Hamas, which violently seized Gaza in 2007.
Egypt is playing a key role in the deal. Opening the crossing, planned for an initial three days, is seen as a major move forward.
Maan, a Palestinian news agency, confirmed Abbas' border guards were present at the crossing as it opened, with priorities given to patients, students and others with pressing needs.
However, Palestinian officials from the border agency in Gaza said that Hamas' police force continue to patrol the areas outside the crossing, indicating that the Islamist movement maintains strong control over the strip.
On Tuesday, Palestinian factions are set to meet in Cairo to hold talks on wider security issues and authority in Gaza, as well as plans for holding elections. Resolving these issues will indicate if the reconciliation deal can hold and become permanent.
Hamas, considered a terrorist group by the United States and the European Union, has been under financial and political pressure, both at home and abroad, to relinquish its control over Gaza and allow both Palestinian territories to come under a unified authority.
Egypt and Israel have kept Gaza under a blockade since the Hamas takeover. The enclave has suffered massive economic collapse, worsened by heavy damage to infrastructure caused during three wars with Israel and a lack of supplies

Saturday, November 18th 2017
By Shabtai Gold, dpa

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