Israel lets third party monitor Gaza Strip crossing points

Israel's defense minister said Wednesday that agreement has been reached to let a third party join Egypt and the Palestinians monitor Gaza Strip crossing points. Shaul Mofaz, who held talks with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in a Cairo palace, said talks were ongoing over who the third party would be, although Egypt and the Palestinians have expressed support for a European presence.

"It has been initially agreed for a third party to be present on the Rafah crossing for people crossing from Gaza to Egypt and that the Kerem Shalom crossing will be for goods and trucks," Mofaz told reporters.

The new Kerem Shalom facility, located at the junction of the Israeli, Egyptian and Gaza borders, will be ready in two months, Mofaz added.

Israel withdrew its last troops from the volatile Mediterranean coastal Gaza Strip in September, ending a 38-year occupation.

Egypt and Israel negotiated a security arrangement, including the deployment of 750 Egyptian border guards, but intense negotiations have continued over control of crossing points to facilitate movement of Palestinians and trade, the AP reports.

Mofaz also said Israel won't hold political talks with the Palestinian Authority until terrorism has been uprooted in Gaza and the West Bank.

"Any kind of diplomatic dialogue in the future will be after the uprooting of the terrorist infrastructure in the West Bank and Gaza," Mofaz told reporters.

On photo: Israel's defense minister Shaul Mofaz.


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