Israeli Defense Minister, Shaul Mofaz, said as he concluded his visit to Washington on Saturday evening that the Rafah Border Crossing would be reopened in two weeks, but he conditioned arriving to an agreement on running it.
Israel demands installing surveillance cameras at the crossing in order to transmit live feeds to the Israeli side, and demands the European Union to deploy a force there in order to monitor the crossing.
Mofaz claimed that Israel has opened the Karni, Sofa, and Erez crossings in order to ease the situation and the daily lives of the residents by enabling them to cross and work there.
The statements of Mofaz came while the army is completely isolating, surrounding and operating in the Palestinian territories.
Meanwhile, the U.S Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is expected in the area this week in order to hold further talks with Palestinian and Israeli leaders.
Israeli online daily, Haaretz, reported that Rice will pressure Israel in order lift the restrictions it imposed on the movement of goods through the Karni and Erez crossings.
James Wolfensohn, Quartet Special Envoy, is also expected in the area in an attempt to open the crossing, and save the vegetables season in Gaza, since the farmers are not able to export their agricultural products.
Rice and Wolfensohn are expected to pressure Israel in order to refrain from closing the crossings. They said that if Israel receives intelligence info on a certain attack, it should only close the crossings which could possible location of the attack.
World Bank representative in the occupied territories, Nigel Roberts, warned last week that the absence of an immediate solution will weaken the Palestinian Authority, and will lead to further escalation in the area.
Roberts stated that there are some urgent steps which should be taken immediately in order to prevent the collapse of the Palestinian economy. These steps include increasing the number of Palestinian camions which are allowed to cross on daily basis to 150 camions, and other procedures related to easing the restrictions on the movement of the residents.
Before the Intifada, Israel used to allow 250 camions to cross through the crossings on daily basis, the number declined to 35 before the implementation of disengagement. Currently Israel is only allowing 12 camions to cross.
6600 Palestinian workers used to be allowed to work in Israel on daily basis before Israel implemented the Gaza pullout, currently only 100 workers are allowed in.
Sabri Saidam, Palestinian Minister of Telecommunications, denied on Sunday reports which claimed that the Rafah Border Crossing, in the southern part of the Gaza Strip, might be completely opened on November 25.
“There are still several issues which we could not resolve during our talks with Israel”, Saidam stated, “We hope to resolve issues regarding the third party which will be present at the crossing besides us and the Egyptians, an other issues related to operating the crossing”.
Also, Saidam denied the presence of European experts at the Rafah crossing, and added that there is only one E.U expert who is currently following and monitoring the arrangements to reopen the crossing, and equipment which will be used there.
Saleem Abu Safiyya, head of the crossings department at the Palestinian Authority, expressed hopes that people and good will be able to cross in a period which is less than two weeks.
Abu Safiyya added that the P.A welcomes the presence of European experts as long as it does not include Israeli presence at the crossing.
The crossing will be opened for four hours on Monday is order to examine the effectiveness of the surveillance cameras.
E.U experts arrived on Saturday morning at the crossing to examine the possible locations of the surveillance cameras. The E.U said that it will dispatch senior officials to the Middle East in order to offer a possible role for the E.U in monitoring the crossings, especially the Rafah Border crossing.