EU to monitor Gaza-Egypt border

The EU will send police experts to the Gaza strip, where they will monitor the Rafah border crossing between the Palestinian territory and Egypt, and train the Palestinian police force.

The mission, which was decided at the 7 November 2005 External Affairs Council, will start on 1 January 2006. It will consist of 30 to 50 police officers who will monitor Palestinian surveillance of the Gaza strip’s border with Egypt. In the past, this border has been used by terrorists to smuggle arms into the Gaza strip and on into Israel. Presently, the Rafah border crossing is closed for security reasons, but it will be reopened by the time the EU police officers start monitoring. In addition, the officers will advise and train their Palestinian counterparts on such matters as the management, recruitment  and financing of the police force. They will not patrol the streets of Gaza. 

Javier Solana, the high representative for the EU’s foreign policy, said this will be “the most important internal security mission in the Middle East” the EU has taken part in so far. Mr. Solana said the EU “will take responsibility in Rafah as a third party”. Foreign Affairs Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner called the EU mission “an important step for re-establishing trust between Israel and the Palestinians”. Mrs. Ferrero-Waldner travels to the Middle East on 9 – 11 November 2005. She will meet, among others, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Palestininan President Mahmoud Abbas.

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