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Palestinians refuse to enter Gaza via Israel-run terminal
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21:32, July 03, 2007

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The Palestinians Tuesday rejected an Israeli bid to let stranded Palestinians into Gaza via an Israel- run terminal instead of Rafah crossing on the borders between Egypt and the coastal strip.

The rejection followed reports that Israel and Egypt had agreed to operate the Kerem Shalom crossing to give access to 4,000 Palestinians stranded at the Egyptian side of the Rafah crossing.

Sacked Prime Minister Ismail Haneya told reporters in Gaza that "we completely refuse to let the people into Gaza through Kerem Shalom crossing."

The Israeli move was "seriously harming the Palestinian people's rights and sovereignty and aimed at boosting the Israeli siege on the territory," he added.

Saeb Erekat, chief Palestinian negotiator, said the Israelis refused to open Rafah crossing "under the pretext of the absence of the Palestinian side, the Europeans and the agreement."

Erekat said the Israeli "pretexts" were true. But he underlined that the Palestinians "will never replace Rafah crossing."

Israel decided to close down the Rafah border crossing, Gaza's only exit bypassing Israel, while a European Union team of observers also left the crossing after Hamas seized control of the strip by force on June 14.

The emergency government, which President Mahmoud Abbas sworn in after Hamas' takeover of Gaza, also announced rejection of the Israeli plans and called for opening Rafah crossing.
Since June 14, about 4,000 Palestinians, who left the Gaza Strip via the Rafah crossing between Gaza and Egypt for medical treatments or visits, are not able to cross due to the crossing's closure.

Israel rejected the idea of reopening the Rafah crossing, claiming that it didn't want to coordinate with Hamas, and had insisted to open the Kerem Shalom crossing on the Egypt-Israel border.

Source: Xinhua

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