Archive for Saturday, October 15, 2005

Israel, Palestine trying to solve border impasse

October 15, 2005

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— Israeli and Palestinian officials worked Friday to narrow their differences over how to operate the Gaza-Egypt border, while Israel's defense minister was to head to Egypt later this month for talks on the issue.

Israeli Vice Premier Shimon Peres and chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat met in Tel Aviv on Friday to work on security and customs arrangements at the Rafah crossing on the Gaza-Egypt border, Gaza's main gateway to the world. Erekat said the differences were largely technical and could be overcome.

"I don't think we are far apart. I think we are getting closer," he said after the meeting.

Israel left the border and closed Rafah as part of its Gaza pullout last month.

The reopening of Rafah is crucial for the economic recovery of Gaza, an impoverished crowded coastal strip of 1.3 million Palestinians.

Israel is concerned about an influx of weapons and militants into Gaza, and wants to be able to watch border traffic, at least long-distance via TV monitors. The Palestinians insist on full control with no Israeli presence.

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