Al-Masry Al-Youm
May 31, 2011 - 12:00am

Egypt's decision to open the Rafah border crossing does not absolve Israel of its obligations to the Gaza Strip, Egypt's ambassador to the Palestinian National Authority said on Tuesday.

Yasser Othman told Al-Ayam, a Palestinian Newspaper, that the decision "does not in any way absolve Israel of its responsibility and obligations toward the Gaza Strip, as it remains the occupying power."

Egypt opened the Rafah border crossing on 28 May, easing access for Palestinians for the first time since Hamas took control of the area in 2007.

Israeli Minister of Transport Israel Katz had said Egypt's decision to have the Rafah border crossing opened permanently gives Israel a chance to separate itself from the Gaza Strip.

In statements to the Israeli Radio, Katz said, "If goods are allowed to move through the Rafah border crossing, then Israel must announce it is not supplying the strip with electricity, water and different commodities."

Othman said Israel continues to impose a blockade on Gaza, control its commercial crossings, maintain a security belt around Gaza and stymie communication between Gaza and the West Bank, all in violation of international law and Geneva conventions.

He added that Gaza and the West Bank represent one entity and both fall under Israeli occupation, which, he said, must end for a Palestinian state to be established with East Jerusalem as its capital.

Israel should lift its blockade on Gaza immediately, open all commercial crossings and ease restrictions on the movement of individuals, goods and allow communication between the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, Othman said.

The Palestinian Authority on Monday rejected any potential Israeli plans to hand over responsibility for the Gaza Strip to Egypt.


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