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Hamas and Egypt reach agreement on Gaza crossing

Hamas and Egypt have reportedly reached an agreement involving Mohammed Dahlan that could result in the opening of the Rafah crossing between Egypt and the Gaza strip.

Alex Fishman, writing in Israeli newspaper Yediot Ahronoth suggests that Egypt is planning to open the Rafah crossing from September, enabling the free passage of Palestinian citizens to and from the Gaza Strip.

Much of the work on the agreement has been undertaken by Mohammed Dahlan, a major rival of Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas, and in the past weeks there are reports that millions of dollars have been invested in preparing the crossing for reopening.

The plan follows recent agreements between Dahlan, Egypt and Hamas to alleviate the energy crisis in Gaza, exacerbated when the PA reduced its payments to Israel, which supplies the Strip with electricity. On 22 June, Egypt began to sell subsidised fuel to Gaza to operate the power station and for private petrol stations, adding another hour of electricity per day to the Strip. In return Hamas agreed to pay the Egyptians $10-15m each month.

According to the report, Dahlan’s personnel will take the place of PA civil servants and fill supervisory and security roles at the crossing alongside Egyptian and Hamas officials. On Monday, in an interview with a Jordanian newspaper, top Hamas official Ahmad Yusuf said that Samir Mashrawi, Dahlan’s close confidant, is returning to Gaza. Yusuf also said that talks currently underway in Egypt focus on the establishment of a new “management committee” which would include Hamas, representatives of the other Palestinian factions in the enclave, and Dahlan associates. According to Yusuf, Hamas will retain responsibility for security in Gaza, while in parallel, the new “committee,” incorporating Dahlan’s personnel, will oversee Gaza’s foreign relations.

Hamas has severed ties with ISIS affiliated groups in Sinai, as demanded by Egypt, and both parties agreed to create a buffer zone between the Gaza Strip and Egypt.

The Rafah crossing on the border between Gaza and Egypt was handed over to the Palestinian Authority in 2005, after Israel withdrew from the Gaza strip, but was closed after Hamas seized power in June 2007. The Muslim Brotherhood regime in Egypt temporarily opened the crossing, but it has remained closed since President al-Sisi came to power in 2014.


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