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Rafah border crossing to open daily

May 26, 2011 at 7:22 AM
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CAIRO, May 26 (UPI) -- The Rafah border crossing between Egypt and Gaza will be open most days to help spur reconciliation among Palestinians, Egyptian officials said.

The decision is "part of Egyptian efforts to end divisions among Palestinians and to finalize their reconciliation," Egypt's official Middle East News Agency said Wednesday.

Starting Saturday, the crossing will be open daily except for Fridays and national holidays between 9a.m. to 5 p.m, MENA said

The decision to reopen the crossing on a permanent basis was discussed at recent reconciliation meetings between Fatah and Hamas officials, Haaretz said.

To persuade Hamas leaders to sign the unity agreement the Palestinian Authority agreed to open the crossing as an incentive, the Hebrew daily said.

Egyptian authorities said Palestinian males more than 40 years of age and those less than 18 would be free to travel to Egypt from anywhere in the world without a visa. Women of all ages will be exempt from visas, the Chinese news agency Xinhua said.

"The opening of the Rafah crossing between Egypt and Gaza will be very problematic for Israel," Israeli Homeland Security Minister Matan Vilnai told Israel Radio Thursday.

Following the Hamas takeover if Gaza in 2007, Egypt closed the border crossing but intermittently opened it for short intervals. Earlier this month an Israeli security official warned reopening Rafah could have serious security repercussions for Israel, Ynetnews.com said.

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