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PNA warns Hamas plan may block Gaza's only commercial crossing

English.news.cn   2013-03-03 23:38:42            

GAZA, March 3 (Xinhua) -- Gaza's Hamas government mulls changes on the mechanisms of operating the only commercial crossing point between the coastal enclave and Israel, which might lead to the closure of it, a Palestinian National Authority (PNA) official revealed Sunday.

The West Bank-based official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Hamas' "meddling" may obstruct the work at Kerem Shalom crossing.

Hamas plans to replace the Palestinian transport company that receives the goods from Kerem Shalom, the official said. "This means that Hamas is meddling in the crossing."

In 2007, Hamas took over Gaza after routing forces loyal to President Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah. Since then, the PNA's rule has been confined to the West Bank, but it maintained presence in fields requiring coordination with Israel, such as crossing points and the referral of Gaza patients to Israeli hospitals.

The current company that facilitates the movement of goods via Kerem Shalom is a Palestinian-Israeli firm with an exclusive contract that is valid until 2020, the official said.

The company brings into Gaza about 300 truckloads of goods a day through back-to-back mechanism.

The official said that Hamas wants to replace the company for financial reasons, hoping to get more profit to its treasury.

Nissim Jan of the Israeli side of the company rejected Hamas' plans to push a new company to the crossing, saying that this violates the contract and may cause the crossing to close. "In this case, the Palestinian merchants and citizens will be the losers."

"A competition will give the merchants more options and less costs so at the end people will buy with cheaper prices," he said. However, he denied that Hamas government was pushing a certain company to enter the field, stressing that his government does not want to be present at a crossing that is controlled by Israel.

Meanwhile, Ziad Al-Zaza, Hamas' minister of finance, said his government supports the idea of having more than one company handling the movement of merchandise through the crossing. "This work should not be monopolized by one company."

Israel closed the crossing on Tuesday after militants from Gaza fired a rocket into Israel -- the first since an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire ended eight days of cross-border fighting between Hamas and Israel in November 2012.

The crossing, previously expected to reopen on Sunday, failed to do so.

Editor: yan
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