Deutsche Presse Agentur (DPA)
June 16, 2010 - 12:00am

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak discussed efforts to lift the Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip on Tuesday, at a meeting with his Palestinian counterpart Mahmoud Abbas.

Egypt reopened its border with the Gaza Strip following the deadly raid on a flotilla of Gaza-bound aid boats by Israeli forces in May.

Mubarak's government on Tuesday rejected an Israeli proposal that would leave Gaza entirely dependent on Egypt for goods and access.

The rejection came in response to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's decision on Sunday to let Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz to come up with a proposal for complete Israeli disengagement from the Gaza Strip.

"This kind of talk confirms what we have been saying for years, which is that there is official Israeli thought which aims to evade responsibility for the Gaza Strip and dump it on Egypt," a spokesperson for the foreign ministry in Cairo said.

Under the proposal, Israel would close all of its land crossings into Gaza, leaving the blockaded enclave completely dependent on Egypt for the movement of people and goods.

"Egypt confirms that Gaza is an integral part of the occupied Palestinian territories, and of the future Palestinian state. There is no room to talk or think of it as anything else," the spokesperson added.

However, Cairo had faced criticism prior to that for the secretive construction of a steel barrier underground beneath the border, aimed at curtailing smuggling tunnels.

Mubarak also discussed Abbas' recent tour that took him to Turkey, the United States, Spain and France.

Egyptian foreign minister Ahmed Abul-Gheit, Yasser Abd-Rabo, of the Palestinian Liberation Organization, and chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat also attended the meeting held in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh.

Abbas met with Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa late on Monday, following Moussa's first visit to the Gaza Strip since he took the post, where he met with Hamas officials.

Moussa entered the enclave via the Rafah crossing point, which Egypt reopened on June 1, after Israel's seizure of the six-vessel aid flotilla.

Around 10,000 Palestinians have crossed the border and tons of medical and humanitarian aid have also been driven into the enclave.

Israel and Egypt have maintained a blockade on the Gaza Strip since Hamas took control of the area in 2007. Occasionally, Egypt has opened the Rafah border for three or four-day periods.

But this is the first time that the border has been opened for an indefinite period of time.


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