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Gaza

Volume 458: debated on Thursday 29 March 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment she has made of the freedom of EU monitors to access the Rafah border checkpoint in the Gaza strip; and if she will make a statement. (128890)

We, along with our EU partners, are concerned at the impact of the frequent closures of the Kerem Shalom crossing which means EU border assistance monitors have to withdraw from Rafah causing the crossing to close. The EU is in regular discussion with both sides to enable the Rafah border crossing to be as effective as possible.

We are aware of the importance of the Rafah crossing point to the Palestinian people. We continue to call upon both sides to implement fully the November 2005 Agreement on Movement and Access.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether she has considered the possibility of stationing EU officials monitoring the Rafah border checkpoint between Gaza and Egypt on the Egyptian side of the border; what discussions she has had with her EU counterparts on this issue; what the outcome was of these discussions; and if she will make a statement. (128891)

I have had no recent discussions about this issue with my EU counterparts. Under the strategic direction of the Political and Security Committee, EU officials are currently examining options to ensure the maximum effectiveness of the Rafah border crossing in the context of the possible renewal of the EU mission's mandate in May 2007.