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Sunday, May 01, 2011

Key question: will the PA take over the Rafah crossing?

The agreement signed by Hamas and Fatah to so much fanfare has very little in terms of details.

Here is everything it says about security forces:

[The two parties] emphasized the formation of the Higher Security Committee, which will report to the Palestinian President and be composed of professional officers to be determined by consensus.

Does this mean that the Hamas security forces will be subsumed by a joint security force? It doesn't look like it. It looks more like the days of Arafat where there were as many as seven competing security forces, each one playing against the other.

If there is to be a joint security force, then the PA will have to become involved in the Rafah crossing again. According to a 2005 agreement between the PA, EU and Israel, the EU would act as a third party to monitor all people and items that cross at Rafah.

Now that Egypt has indicated that it will open Rafah permanently, this means that it is more important than ever to have a third party presence there.

EUBAM issued a mild statement seemingly in the wake of Hamas/Fatah unity news:

On 26 April 2010, the Council reaffirmed the political importance of EUBAM Rafah and its continued support for the mission. It welcomed in particular the maintenance of the mission's operational capability as well as its reactivation plan, which would ensure a rapid resumption of its full activities in case of re-opening of the Rafah Crossing Point.

Rafah is the key test as to whether the Fatah/Hamas deal is anything more than a scam meant to fool the world ahead of the UN initiative for statehood in September. If they are serious, then the PA must adhere to its commitment with the EU to monitor Rafah in cooperation with Israel.

So far, the indications are quite the opposite. From the Guardian on Friday:
The Islamist organisation [Hamas] also said it would keep control of the Gaza Strip under the accord, which is expected to be formally signed by leaders of the two factions in Cairo next week.

If Hamas maintains its own separate security control of Gaza, this is just more proof that the "unity" agreement is a sham.