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January 06, 2009

Eldar, Meshal and Rafah Crossing

Eldar Meshal.jpg
Hamas at the Rafah Crossing in June 27. There was never any agreement that allowed for Hamas management (Photo by Ibraheem Abu Mustafa/Reuters)

In one fell swoop, Ha'aretz's Akiva Eldar completely misrepresents a statement by Khaled Meshal as well as the 2005 agreements concerning authority of the Rafah crossing between Gaza and Egypt.

He wrote:

Exactly one week ago I asked in this column how many Palestinians and Israelis must die before both sides hold their fire and tahadiyeh II is signed. The answer came, ostensibly, on Saturday, a few hours before the Israel Defense Forces stormed the Gaza Strip. Hamas politburo chief Khaled Meshal announced on the Iz al-Din al-Qassam Web site that he was prepared not only for a "cessation of aggression" -- he proposed going back to the arrangement at the Rafah crossing as of 2005, before Hamas won the elections and later took over the region. That arrangement was for the crossing to be managed jointly by Egypt, the European Union, the Palestinian Authority presidency and Hamas.

First, the Agreed Principles for Rafah Crossing stipulates that "Rafah will be operated by the Palestinian Authority on its side, and Egypt on its side," and that European Union observers would be on site to monitor implementation of the agreement and provide assistance to the Palestinians. Contrary to Eldar's assertion, the agreement does not give authority to Hamas to partially manage Rafah, nor does it even mention Hamas. And since the European Union has a ban on dealing with Hamas, even Hamas' January 2006 election victory did not give it a hand in the management of the crossing.

As reporter in CAMERA's backgrounder on the Rafah crossing, despite the shockwaves caused by the Hamas victory, the Rafah crossing stayed open until June 25, 2006. This was possible in part because Abbas's Presidential Guard took control of the crossing in April 2006, days after the new government was sworn in. With a militia not affiliated with Hamas running the crossing, the European observers — known as the European Union Border Assistance Mission in Rafah, or EUBAM — were able to continue working without violating the EU ban on dealing with Hamas.

In short, there was never any international arrangement which granted Hamas authority at Rafah.

As for Meshal's statement in the hours before Israel's Ground Operation, this comes to us from MEMRI's blog:

Hamas Leader Khaled Mash'al said that a year ago, his movement had proposed to Egypt that the border crossings be controlled jointly by Egypt, the Palestinian Authority presidency, Hamas, and European countries – without Hamas having exclusive authority – but that his proposal had borne no results. Addressing 'Iz Al-Din Al-Qassem, the military branch of Hamas, Mash'al said that the Jihad would continue until victory and liberation were achieved and that the Israeli soldiers entering Gaza would meet a dark fate and would die, be wounded, or captured.

Source:, January 3, 2009

See here for Eldar's previous falsehood.

Posted by TS at January 6, 2009 03:05 AM


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