Accessibility links

Egyptians, Palestinians Say Some Gaza Border Issues Unresolved

  • VOA News

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas says control of Gaza Strip border posts remains a key unresolved issue as Israel completes its withdrawal from the territory. He spoke to reporters in Cairo after meeting with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

Earlier in the day, Israel announced a deal to have Egyptian soldiers guard the border between Egypt and Gaza, but Egyptian officials say there are still several key issues to resolve before the deployment.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas made a symbolic crossing into Egypt through the Rafah border post for talks with the Egyptian president about Israel's withdrawal from Gaza.

Rafah is the territory's only gateway to the Arab world, and Mr. Abbas said control of Gaza's border posts is one of the most sensitive issues yet to be resolved as Israel's pullout continues.

"We think resolving [this matter] will determine whether or not Gaza will be a prison, so it is an important issue," he said.

Israel says it has reached a deal with Egypt to deploy 750 Egyptian soldiers on the Gaza side of the border, replacing Israeli security forces after they withdraw over the next few weeks. The Israeli defense minister says Egypt will bear "comprehensive responsibility" for stopping weapons smuggling across the Egypt-Gaza border.

But a spokesman for Egyptian President Mubarak said there are still a number of unresolved issues that need to be dealt with before the border deployment can proceed, especially control of the border posts.

The Palestinian leader, Mr. Abbas, says the head of Egypt's intelligence service will visit Palestinian officials on August 29 to discuss the issue in more detail. He said other outstanding issues include the reopening of the Gaza airport, which was largely bulldozed by Israeli troops in 2001.

Later, Mr. Abbas met with Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa, who said he is trying to organize a regional summit to address some of those issues.