Source Pravda.Ru

EU to send mission to monitor Gaza Strip border

The European Union said it was sending senior officials to the Middle East to evaluate an EU role in helping monitor the Gaza Strip border.

In a statement, the EU's executive commission said it "stands ready to play its part" should Israel and the Palestinians both request an EU role on the border.

Israeli Cabinet ministers on Tuesday approved the deployment of European inspectors at the border, a breakthrough after weeks of slow-moving talks and a major step toward giving the Palestinians freedom of movement without Israeli control for the first time in four decades.

An EU mission could "play an important part in rebuilding confidence between the two parties, and helping to kickstart the Palestinian economy in Gaza," EU External Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Walder said.

The international presence should facilitate the early reopening of the Rafah crossing point between Egypt and Gaza, the EU said. Israel closed Rafah terminal before withdrawing from Gaza in September.

Israel's Security Cabinet agreed European inspectors could replace Israeli border personnel, who had controlled Palestinian movement in and out of Gaza since capturing the territory in the 1967 Mideast war.

The EU has long said it would be willing to help out on the border, if both sides agree, the AP reports.

V.Y.