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Egyptian parliament renews proposal to establish Rafah free trade zone
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16:01, June 02, 2008

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An Egyptian parliament committee on Sunday renewed a proposal to set up a free trade zone at Rafah crossing along the Egypt-Gaza border, the official MENA news agency reported.

The establishment of the proposed free trade zone at the border crossing is a purely commercial move, said the Arab Affairs Committee of the Egyptian People's Assembly (lower house of the parliament).

The operation of the free trade area would be controlled by Egypt, not Israel, in a bid to alleviate the sufferings of the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, it added.

The coastal strip was sealed off by Israel a year ago when Hamas took it over by force.

According to earlier report, a Hamas spokesman Sunday denied reports that Egypt is to open the Rafah crossing, the only one into the enclave which bypasses Israel, for three days next week.

Although a U.S.-brokered deal stipulates that Rafah can not function without the presence of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' forces and EU monitors, Egypt unilaterally opens the crossing from time to time to allow Palestinian patients and Hamas leaders to leave Gaza.


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