Closing Rafah Undermines EU Deployment

European officials warn that the EU observer mission at the Rafah border crossing may not be extended if Israel continues to close the crossing.
In a missive sent to Defense Minister Amir Peretz last week, EU officials cautioned that the repeated closure of the Rafah border crossing puts the continued deployment of the EU observer mission at risk.

Since Hamas' victory, Israel has often closed the Rafah crossing, arguing that there is a large number of terror alerts threatening Israel. Moreover, since the kidnapping of Gilad Shalit, Israel has frequently used the closing of the border crossing in order to exert pressure on the Palestinians to release the soldier.

To date, the European observers have completed ten months of their one-year tour, which could be extended by six months. However, officials expressed that it will be difficult to convince EU countries to extend the mission if Israel does not fulfill its obligations under the Agreement on Movement and Access.

The Reut Institute forewarns that while closing the Rafah crossing may have security benefits for Israel, it may lead to the collapse of the European border supervision mechanism, thereby reestablishing Israel's responsibility over Gaza.

Sources

Harel, Ha'aretz, 10/5/06; full text.