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Opening Rafah border helps ease tension in Middle East
Opening Rafah border helps ease tension in Middle East
Egypt’s decision to open the border with Gaza at the Rafah border crossing serves to ease tension in the Middle East after a crisis in which Israel attacked a flotilla, killing nine Turkish citizens. The Rafah crossing serves passengers, but is mainly used by Palestinians and humanitarian aid shipments coordinated by the Egyptian Red Crescent.
Wednesday, June 9,2010 10:17
by AY?E KARABAT Todays Zaman

According to an agreement with the European Union, Israel and the Palestinian Authority, the Rafah crossing was monitored by EU officials, but after Hamas took over the control of Gaza in 2007 and an embargo was put into effect, the EU officials were withdrawn. Since then, the Rafah crossing has been operating on and off.

Although Egypt has announced that this is a permanent opening, experts have voiced doubts.

“Egypt’s move looks like a temporary political stunt. If Egypt was considering another move, a high-ranking visit would take place between Turkey and Egypt. But we have not seen it, not yet at least,” Samir Salha, an expert on the Arab world, told Today’s Zaman.

Egypt has suspicions that in the long run Israel aims to make Egypt responsible for the control of Gaza in order to restrict the area of Palestine to the West Bank alone. The main opposition in Egypt is the Muslim Brotherhood, which has strong connections to Hamas.

US Vice President Joe Biden on Tuesday met with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in Sharm el-Sheik and issued a statement in which he praised Egypt’s role as leader in the Middle East and African affairs.

“The United States recognizes and appreciates Egypt’s leadership in support for these efforts [comprehensive peace]. The status quo is unsustainable for all sides. It is vital to make progress in the proximity talks between Israelis and Palestinians to enable the parties to move to direct negotiations as soon as possible that will result in an end to the occupation that began in 1967 and to a two-state solution to the conflict with Israel and a Palestinian state living in peace and security. In addition, we are consulting closely with Egypt, as well as our other partners, on new ways to address the humanitarian, economic, security and political aspects of the situation in Gaza,” Biden said.

He added that they also discussed the Iranian nuclear program. According to many analysts in Turkey, Turkey’s position on the issue will be directly linked to the future attitude of the US administration regarding Turkey’s international efforts to punish Israel over its lethal attack. It is well known that Egypt supports the US position against Iran.

According to Hasan K?ni from Galatasaray University, Turkey’s efforts to get the support of the international community against Israel will be shaped by the decision of the UN Security Council when it votes on sanctions against Iran.

“The UN Security Council’s vote on sanctions targeting Iran will play a crucial role. If Turkey is the only country to oppose the sanctions against Iran, then it can expect a goal in its net,” he told Today’s Zaman.

Biden in his statement underlined that the UN Security Council is prepared to hold Iran accountable and argued that Iran is not fulfilling the expectations of the international community.

“We discussed our serious concerns about Iran’s nuclear program. The international community continues to witness Iran’s non-compliance with its obligations to the United Nations Security Council and the International Agency for Atomic Energy, as well as Iran’s unwillingness to engage seriously with the P5+1 on its nuclear program. The United States remains committed to a diplomatic resolution to these serious issues, but we will continue to hold Iran accountable for its continued violations of its international responsibilities, in accordance with our dual-track policy. We expect to see developments in the United Nations Security Council to hold Iran accountable very soon. In addition to concerns about Iran’s nuclear program, we remain concerned about its destabilizing activities throughout the region, including with regard to its support for Hezbullah and Hamas,” Biden said.

Turkey together with Brazil signed an agreement with Iran which envisages an exchange of low-enriched uranium for enriched uranium in Turkey. Ankara claims there is no need for sanctions after this agreement, but the US is of the opinion that the agreement is inadequate to assuage the worries of the international community.

Well-informed sources close to the Turkish government underlined that Egypt, which has some difficulties in internal politics as well as in the Arab League, had decided to act together with Turkey over the Gaza issue. The same sources think opening the Rafah border crossing has allowed Cairo to gain ground and served to ease tension.

tags: Gaza / Rafah Border / Middle East / Hamas / Turkey / Arab World / West Bank / Biden / Mubarak / 1967 / Iran / Hizbullah / / Moderate Muslim Brotherhood / Security Council / Hezbullah /
Posted in Palestine  
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