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Monday, December 17, 2012

EU pretends to be relevant, considers returning observers to Rafah

From Ma'an:
Egyptian authorities have pledged to end a blacklist of Gaza residents who cannot use the Rafah crossing to leave the coastal strip, an official in Gaza said on Sunday.

On Sunday, EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton told Saudi-newspaper Okaz that Europe was considering returning its border monitors to the Egypt-Gaza border.

Last month, EU representative John Gatt-Rutter told reporters that the EU was prepared to redeploy its European Border Assistance Mission at Rafah crossing, "but that necessitates the approval of all sides."
How clueless can Ashton be?

If Hamas allows EU observers at the Rafah border, it will be nothing close to what they used to do - sending a live video feed to Israel of the crossing, for example.

Here is part of the mandate for EUBAM:
The European Union Border Assistance Mission shall actively monitor, verify and evaluate the Palestinian Authority's performance with regard to the implementation of the Agreed Principles for Rafah Crossing and will act with authority to ensure that the Palestinian Authority complies with all applicable rules and regulations concerning the Rafah Crossing Point and the terms of the Agreed Principles for Rafah Crossing.

And here are some of the Agreed Principles:
• Use of the Rafah crossing will be restricted to Palestinian ID card holders and others by exception in agreed categories with prior notification to the GoI and approval of senior PA leadership.
- The PA will notify the GoI 48 hours in advance of the crossing of a person in the excepted categories – diplomats, foreign investors, foreign representatives of recognized international organizations and humanitarian cases.
- The GoI will respond within 24 hours with any objections and will include the reasons for the objections;
- The PA will notify the GoI of their decision within 24 hours and will include the reasons for their decision;
- The third party will ensure the proper procedures are followed and will advise both sides of any information in its possession pertaining to the people applying to cross under these exceptions.
The idea that Hamas would allow Israel any input into decisions as to who or what will be transferred through Rafah is ludicrous. In fact, the beginning of the Ma'an article shows explicitly that this will not be the case.

The EU, still funding EUBAM and dozens of its workers for some five years after it has done anything remotely resembling its mandate, refuses to admit that there is literally nothing it can do to restore any semblance of security at Rafah. Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood of Egypt will not relinquish any real control over Rafah, although they will be more than happy to allow a toothless EUBAM to return under their terms.

Apparently, the EU will jump at such an opportunity, just to pretend that they are doing something useful and to justify the continued existence of a useless mission.