Humanity Voice - The Muslim Brotherhood aims to open the Egyptian border with Gaza to commerce

 

 

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  The Muslim Brotherhood aims to open the Egyptian border with Gaza to commerce
Humanitarian Voice - 2012-03-21

The Muslim Brotherhood aims to open the Egyptian border with Gaza to commerce

The Muslim Brotherhood aims to open the Egyptian border with Gaza to commerce, a shift that would transform life for Palestinians there but which is hitting resistance from Egyptian authorities reluctant to change a longstanding policy.

The biggest party in Egypt's new parliament, the Muslim Brotherhood are not yet in government but have been seeking ways to ease the impact of restrictions imposed by "Israel" and Egypt on what passes in and out of the territory run by Hamas, an ideological offshoot of the Brotherhood.

Aiming to ease chronic power shortages in Gaza, the Brotherhood recently lobbied the Egyptian government to conclude a deal to supply fuel for the territory's sole power station.

However, the blackouts still plaguing Gaza several weeks after the deal was declared show that changing policy is easier said than done in Cairo, where government is still largely run by remnants of Hosni Mubarak's administration.

"It's the continuation of the Mubarak method in dealing with the Palestinian issue," said Gamal Hishmat, the deputy chair of the Egyptian parliamentary committee on foreign affairs and a Muslim Brotherhood MP.

The fuel has yet to arrive because of a dispute over how it should be delivered, according to Hamas and Brotherhood MPs familiar with the details.

Hamas wants it to come across Gaza border with Egypt, a precedent that could lead to broader trade through the only Palestinian frontier not controlled by Israel.

Egypt had initially backed this but then said it should go via "Israel", the Hamas and Brotherhood sources said. Officials at the Egyptian oil ministry could not be reached for comment.

Home to 1.7 million people, Gaza has been under tight embargo since Hamas took control in 2007.

Protests organized by Hamas at the border this week over the power crisis have signaled growing impatience with restrictions Palestinians feel should have ended with Mubarak's rule.

Egypt's ruling military led by Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi eased restrictions on the passage of travelers last year, but the change fell short of what Palestinians were seeking.

"The Field Marshal of Egypt and the government of Egypt and the whole world stand silent as Gaza remains under blockade," Mohammed Ashour, a local official in Gaza, told a rally, his voice booming from loud speakers across the frontier.

Ma'an/AB

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