Last update - 14:18 01/11/2005
Cabinet approves Rafah crossing arrangements
By Yoav Stern, Haaretz Correspondent and Haaretz Service
The cabinet on Tuesday approved the proposal under which European Union
personnel will operate the Rafah border crossing between the Gaza Strip and
According to the decision, the EU personnel will enforce security procedures
stipulated by Israel.
The cabinet said in a statement issued after the meeting, that stationing an
EU force is of great importance to Israel, and that it is vital that the EU
personnel are granted substantial enforcement capabilities.
Earlier on Tuesday, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon told Italian Foreign Minister
Ginafranco Fini in Jerusalem that Israel wishes to consider EU operatives as
enforcement officials and not just as observers.
Vice Premier Shimon Peres' office will hold diplomatic talks with the EU,
while the Ministry of Defense will oversee the security arrangements. Once the
crossing's operation plan is approved in principle, negotiations will be held
with the Palestinian Authority directly.
According to the plan, only passengers registered on the Palestinian
population rolls would be allowed entry into the Gaza Strip. Exceptions would
be made only in extreme circumstances. Other nationals would enter the Strip
at the Kerem Shalom crossing just south of Israel's border with Gaza.
Israel views these requirements as an imperative condition for the operation
of the Rafah crossing, in order to prevent the entry of hostile operatives
into the Strip. As part of Israel's security demands, it will have
long-distance access to closed circuit cameras installed at the crossing and
the Palestinian border control information system.
Security checks and customs would be held according to Israeli requirements as