Abbas calls for end of rocket attack on Israel for lifting siege on Gaza 2008-02-26 22:49:51   Print

    Special report: Palestine-Israel Relations

    CAIRO, Feb. 26 (Xinhua) -- Visiting Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Tuesday called on here the armed groups in the Gaza Strip to stop launching rockets into Israel in exchange for lifting the siege on Gaza.

    After his meeting with his Egyptian counterpart Hosni Mubarak at the latter's presidential palace, Abbas told reporters that Israel is using the rocket attacks as the pretext to keep the border crossings closed and the siege on Gaza clamped.

    In order to deny the Israelis the pretext, the Palestinian leader called for an immediate stop of launching rockets into Israel.

    Abbas disclosed that he also discussed with President Mubarak the crossing issue during their talks.

    He considered the closure of all crossings as a result of the existing siege on Gaza, calling for the reopening of the Rafah border crossing on Gaza-Egypt borders in line with the 2005 agreement.

    The 2005 agreement stipulates the presence of European Union (EU) monitors as a third party on the border passage but rules out any Hamas involvement in the management of the crossing.

    He added that any amendments to the 2005 agreement can come at a later stage.

    On Jan. 23, Hamas militants blew holes in the border wall separating Gaza and Egypt, allowing the Palestinians living in the poor isolated Gaza enclave to cross into Egypt to purchase daily needs.

    Egyptian troops and Hamas gunmen, who controlled the Gaza Strip since June 2007, resealed the border on Feb. 3 after Egypt held talks with Hamas officials over the border issue.

    The two sides agreed at their talks to reopen Rafah crossing, Gaza's only gateway to the outside world bypassing Israel.

    However, Palestinians have voiced different opinions about the conditions of reopening the Rafah crossing.

    While President Abbas denied Hamas any role in managing the crossing and insisted on 2005 agreement, Hamas expressed its reservations over the U.S.-brokered deal on Rafah, citing Israel had a hand in management of the crossing through the EU monitors stipulated by the 2005 deal.

    With regard to the peace talks between the Palestinians and Israel, Abbas admitted that there are obstacles, but hoped also that they could be transcended.

    Meanwhile, the Palestinian president called on Israel to stop the ongoing attacks on the Palestinians, noting that the two sides would continue hold talks on this issue.

    Abbas, who arrived here late Monday, was also scheduled to attend a ceremony to partake in the inauguration ceremony of late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat Foundation at the Cairo-based Arab League on Tuesday.

Editor: Yan Liang
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