PA open to Israeli inspection demands

Palestinians are willing to discuss Israeli demands to inspect goods coming into the Gaza Strip after the impending departure of its troops from the territory, Foreign Minister Nasser al-Qidwa has said.

    Qidwa stressed the right of civilians to use the Rafah border

    Qidwa said on Thursday it was essential that civilians be able to move back and forward across the existing Rafah border terminal into Egypt freely, but indicated a willingness for Israel to inspect goods at a new venue.

    Israel wants all goods and civilians entering the Gaza Strip to pass through an Israeli-controlled border post near Kerem Shalom kibbutz where the Israeli, Egyptian and Palestinian territories converge.

    "The Palestinian position is that we must have entrances and exits for the people and their belongings," Qidwa said.

    "We can look again and discuss with the Israeli side about the trade goods entering Rafah."

    A source close to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has said that Israel was willing to let Palestinian civilians leave through the Rafah crossing but that "there is no question of allowing Palestinians or merchandise from Egypt cross into Gaza without being checked by us".

    Israel's parliament approved a plan on Wednesday for lightly armed Egyptian border guards to patrol the Rafah border, with the last of its soldiers due to leave the occupied territory later this month.

    SOURCE: AFP


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