Egypt pressured to aid Palestinians

December 31, 2008 10:32:52 PM PST
Israeli aircraft bombed a border crossing between Gaza and Egypt Wednesday. Israel says it is trying to stop the flow of arms coming in from Egypt. Meanwhile, there is increasing pressure on Egypt to open its border with Gaza and come to the aid of its Palestinian neighbors.

At the Rafa border crossing between Egypt and Gaza, trucks wait to carry in relief supplies; ambulances have carried dozens of injured Palestinians to Egyptian hospitals but Palestinian sympathizers around the world are calling on Egypt to do more.

"Definitely it should open that border because there are almost 2,000 people who are injured, hospitals have been bombed," Suzy Abu-nie said.

Abu-nie is a Palestinian-American working at a mental health clinic in San Francisco. She was among the pro-Palestinian protestors who marched past the Israeli consulate Tuesday night to protest Israel's bombardment of Gaza. In the crowd, says Abu-Nie, were Egyptians protesting against their own government.

"The Egyptians have been wonderful, great protesting against Egypt and the Israeli government," Abu-nie said.

Egypt's Consul General for the western United States says the borders would be open, except Egypt has no border agreement with Hamas.

"Egypt sees this as a comprehensive package, we cannot look at it in parcels," Ambassador Hesham Elnakib said.

Elnakib says Egypt had a border agreement with the Palestinian Authority in 2005, but because Hamas is now in control of Gaza, the agreement does not hold.

"There is a Palestinian Authority, there is a president for the Palestinian Authority, we respect that, and without the regulations, without the accord of 2005, we cannot just simply open and close door," Elnakib said.

Besides the security concerns, there is the fact that Hamas is an outgrowth of the Islamic Brotherhood, a movement started in Egypt and one that is now banned by the Egyptian government.

"Because of its insistence of applying Sharia on everybody, because of many other factors," Elnakib said.

But Elnakib is quick to add that does not mean Egypt opposes Hamas, in fact Egypt brokered the cease fire that had been in place for the past six months.

"We have dealt with Hamas, and as a matter of fact we were about to broker a deal between Hamas and Fatah," Elnakib said.

Asked if this conflict has put Egypt in an uncomfortable position, he says of course.

"That is part of Egyptian history and Egyptian role, we have been uncomfortable for many years and we will be uncomfortable until we solve the Palestinian problem," Elnakib said.


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