Murbarak: Rafah Border Will Remain Open

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CBNNews.com - A spokesman for the Egyptian Foreign Ministry told CNN that the Rafah border crossing will remain open "as long as there continues to be a humanitarian crisis in the Strip."

The decision followed Wednesday's statement by Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak that he ordered the opening of the Rafah border crossing because Gazans "were starving."

"I told them to let them come in and eat and buy food and then return them later, as long as they were not carrying weapons," Mubarak told the press.

"The Palestinians in Gaza are starving due to the Israeli siege. Egyptian troops escorted them to buy food and then allowed them to return to the Gaza Strip," he said.

Meanwhile, Hamas officials called for Egypt and the Palestinian Authority (PA) to work out a new agreement sharing control of the border at Rafah.

Exiled Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal said the border must come under exclusive Palestinian-Egyptian control.

"We in Hamas and our brothers in the Palestinian government headed by [Gaza-based] Ismail Haniyeh declare our readiness to reach an understanding with the brothers in Ramallah [Fatah-affiliated PA) and the brothers in Egypt on how to manage the border crossing," Mashaal said, adding that Hamas is ready to work with the PA government.

While Haniyeh also called for an urgent meeting between Egypt and the PA, Palestinian Authority officials in Ramallah rejected joint control of the Rafah crossing, saying Hamas was attempting to embarrass Egypt and "drag" the Arab world in pursuit of its "narrow interests."

Sources: Haaretz, The Jerusalem Post

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