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On Gaza, Egypt Blames Blockage of Rafah Crossing on "Other Party," Strange Bedfellows Noted

Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis

UNITED NATIONS, December 29 -- As Israeli air strikes lead residents of the Gaza Strip to seek to flee south to Egypt, questions are being raised about the Egyptian government does not fully open the Rafah border crossing. Egypt's Ambassador to the UN Maged Abdelaziz spoke to the Press on Monday, following meetings with Ban Ki-moon and this month's Security Council president Neven Jurica. Inner City Press asked Ambassador Abdelaziz to respond to calls to open the border.

   "We have opened the crossing in Rafah," he said, referring to a few dozen injured allowed through for medical treatment. "But there is another party on the other side which somehow limits the movement of Palestinians who would like to cross the border. We call on the other parties to open the border as well." Video here, from Minute 13:13.

  Some listening to Ambassador Abdelaziz thought he was referring to Hamas, others to the European Union Border Assistance Mission Rafah, EUBAM. The Palestinian Permanent Observer to the UN Riyad Mansour took the microphone next and emphasized that focus should not "deviate from the consensus" that Israel should stop its air strikes.

Riyad Mansour and
Maged Abdelaziz, "other party" not shown

   Early Sunday morning, when Inner City Press asked Riyad Mansour if these events made it more or less likely that his Fatah and Hamas could work together, Mansour called this a "distraction." Apparently, asking Egypt why it plays a role in closing its border to Gaza is also a distraction, or a "deviation."  But the question must be asked. The UN's humanitarian coordinator John Holmes was asked about the Rafah crossing earlier on Monday. Holmes called it complicated, to allow only one-way passage.

News analysis: Some in the United States, such as a right-leaning TV network which asked Holmes the Rafah question, pursue this as a way of absolving, or distracting from as Amb. Riyad Mansour might put it, Israel's closings of its border crossings with Gaza. But Hezbollah, too, is asking or demanding that Egypt open its borders. Strange bedfellows, or at least, strange parties to at least on the surface be taking the same position.

Click here for Inner City Press' December 24 debate on UN budget, Niger

Click here from Inner City Press' December 12 debate on UN double standards

Click here for Inner City Press' November 25 debate on Somalia, politics

Click here for Inner City Press Nov. 7 debate on the war in Congo

Watch this site, and this Oct. 2 debate, on UN, bailout, MDGs

and this October 17 debate, on Security Council and Obama and the UN.

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These reports are usually also available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis.

Click here for a Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click here for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali National Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an undefined trust fund.  Video Analysis here

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