Egyptian intelligence Chief Omar Suleiman is currently formulating a proposal whichÃ‚Â he claims willÃ‚Â end the Palestinian Ã¢â‚¬â€œ Israeli dispute over the freedom of movement of Palestinian residents and goods through the Rafah border crossing in the Gaza Strip.
Suleiman proposed that Israel continue its supervision of the entrance of goods and people into Gaza following the Israeli pullout for a period of six months.Ã‚Â Israeli sources reported that Suleiman seeks a solution similar to the proposal suggested by the Israeli defense Minister, Shaul Mofaz, earlier this week.Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Suleiman held separate talks Monday with Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia and Palestinian Authority (P.A.) Chairman Mahmoud Abbas. He also met with representatives of the various Palestinian factions, as well as with Egyptian officers who are training the Palestinian police.
Mofaz proposed that Israel shouldÃ‚Â hand over to Egypt the supervision of the Rafah Border crossing (between the Gaza Strip and Egypt), inÃ‚Â exchange for the establishment of a new, Israeli-controlled crossing near the Israeli border town of Keren Shalom. The Keren Shalom crossing is currently a joint Israeli-Egyptian crossing; under Suleiman’s new proposal, Israel would be solely responsible toÃ‚Â monitor the entry and exit of goods and residents.
The Palestinian Authority rejected MofazÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s proposal, and insisted that the Rafah Border Crossing should be the only entry and exit crossing for residents and goods, and should be under Egyptian and Palestinian supervision.Ã‚Â Ã‚Â According to the Israeli onlineÃ‚Â newspaper Haaretz, SuleimanÃ‚Â expects that he will be ableÃ‚Â to convince the Palestinians and Israelis toÃ‚Â accept a Ã¢â‚¬Å“trial agreementÃ¢â‚¬Â for six months,Ã‚Â after which time they would re-negotiate a permanent agreement.
Haaretz also reported that the Palestinian leadershipÃ‚Â did not in fact reject SuleimanÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s suggestion, but insisted that the P.A would not discuss it before it is presented to Israel. Ã‚Â Suleiman is expected to submit the proposal to Sharon and Mofaz on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, Sami Abu Zuhri, the media spokesperson for the Palestinian armed resistance group Hamas, said that the Israeli military presence at the crossing is considered a form of occupation, and will be targeted by the resistance until the occupation completely evacuates from the Gaza Strip, including its border crossings.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“They [Israel] have to evacuate from the Gaza StripÃ¢â‚¬Â, Abu Zuhri said, Ã¢â‚¬Å“They have to withdraw completely, without leaving any form of occupation thereÃ¢â‚¬Â.
Several Palestinian factions reported that any Israeli control over the crossings means that the occupation is still there, and resistance will resume.
The Fateh partyÃ‚Â welcomed SuleimanÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s visit to the Palestinian territories, describing it as a historic visit visit carried out Ã¢â‚¬Å“duringÃ‚Â the historicÃ‚Â moment of settlement evacuation in the Gaza Strip, and northern West BankÃ¢â‚¬Â.Ã‚Â
The movement said that Egypt was always supportiveÃ‚Â of the Palestinians and their struggle to achieve independence and control over their landÃ¢â‚¬Â.
The Palestinian leadership doesÃ‚Â not expect that the issue of the Rafah crossing will be resolved soon, and expect the continuation of talks regarding the crossings and checkpointsÃ‚Â in the West Bank after Israel concludes its evacuation from the Gaza Strip.