Deal reached on Gaza Strip border crossings
A deal has been reached between Israelis and Palestinians regarding the Gaza Strip border crossings of Rafah and "Kerem Shalom". Under the agreement, which came after extended negotiations, a joint Israeli-Palestinian coordination center will be established to oversee the Kerem Shalom crossing under European supervision.
The agreement also dictates that the Kerem Shalom crossing will be used solely for the transfer of goods, while the Rafah crossing, which has been closed since Israel withdrew from the Gaza Strip in September, will allow for the passage of individuals, automobiles, as well as goods.
The Rafah crossing was previously under the control of Israeli occupation authorities. Only Palestinians holding Palestinian Authority identity cards will be allowed to enter and exit through the crossing.
At the Kerem Shalom, live images will be transferred to Israel from cameras to be installed there.
A news conference regarding the matter wa held on Tuesday, in Jerusalem, following intense negotiations between Palestinian and Israeli leaders and brokered by the United States and US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
Palestinians sources say that Israel's insistence on installing cameras at the crossing to relay images into and out of Gaza Strip every eight to fourteen minute leaves signs of Israeli control of the area, undermining the so called Gaza Strip disengagement.
"This is an attempt to humiliate us and to continue to control the passageway," said the source. Aides to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas reportedly made similar points to Condoleezza Rice, according to Reuters.
Negotiations regarding the crossing included talks between Israeli Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Palestinian Minister Muhammad Dahlan.
One Israeli intelligence source, however, expressed grave concern recently about the agreement, saying that it left Israel with little assurance of security.
"A large quantity of arms is being piled up in Sinai," said the source, referring to the area across the controversial Rafah crossing.
"There are whole stockpiles there that are waiting to be smuggled into Gaza. Unfortunately, the Egyptians are not in control there," he said.
Arrests continue in West Bank
Meanwhile, a member of the Islamic Jihad was arrested on Tuesday by Israeli forces in the West Bank town of Yata, south of Hebron.
Israel troops have conducted overnight raids into the West Bank on a regular basis in recent weeks, taking dozens of Palestinians, most of whom members of Hamas of Islamic Jihad factions, into Israeli custody.
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