AMMAN, Nov. 25 (Xinhuanet) -- Jordanian King Abdullah II phoned Palestinian National Authority (PNA) President Mahmoud Abbas on Friday to congratulate him on the opening of the Rafah border crossing between the Gaza Strip and Egypt, a crucial link of the Palestinians to the outside world.
The opening of the Rafah crossing will play a positive role in expanding Palestinians' contacts and free exchanges with the outside world, local media cited the king as saying.
The opening of the crossing is an important step toward the establishment of an independent Palestinian state and the liberation and independence of the Palestinian people, Abdullah II told Abbas.
The Palestinians and Israel should take more measures to strengthen mutual trust and make joint efforts to restore their peace talks, he added.
Expressing gratitude to the king and the Jordanian people for their support and help for the Palestinians' cause, Abbas said the Rafah crossing's opening is a historic achievement and the PNA will continue to consult and cooperate with Jordan for realizing the goal of setting up a Palestinian state.
The Rafah crossing on the Gaza-Egypt border is the only exit for Palestinians living in Gaza to travel abroad. The crossing has been shut down since Israel withdrew from Gaza in September.
A ceremony for opening the Rafah crossing was inaugurated by Abbas on Friday.
"It is a dream that has come true for us to be here to celebrate the reopening of the Rafah terminal as a free crossing between us and our brothers in Egypt," Abbas said at the official ceremony packed with Palestinian and foreign senior officials.
Under a Palestinian-Israeli agreement, the crossing will formally open to Palestinians on Saturday. Initially it will operate four hours a day and gradually become open round the clock every day.
When the crossing starts processing people on Saturday, it will be the first time the Gaza-Egypt terminal is operated without direct Israeli control since a border crossing was established after Israel signed a peace deal with Egypt in 1979.
Under the European Union's supervision, the transit route will open up the world to the Gaza Strip's 1.3 million residents, after fears the territory would be transformed into a "giant prison" after a 38-year Israeli occupation.
Palestinian officials hope that a fully functioning border will help kick-start a desperately depressed economy, which is heavily dependent on Israel, and help bring down unemployment that has soared to almost 40 percent in recent months. Enditem