A deal on a vital Gaza border crossing is in sight, according to US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice.
She has been holding talks with the Palestinian leadership. Opening up the border at Rafah to goods traffic could help kick start Gaza’seconomy and lead to further deals on movement through Israel. “It is very important for ordinary Palestinian people in their daily lives that there will be freedom of movement established between Gaza and the West Bank, and also that we ease movement in the West Bank,” she said. The American foreign minister met the Israelis earlier in the day. Washington wants to knock heads together as it sees neither side as having taken advantage of the opportunities created by the Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip. But arguments over exactly how freedom of movement would be eased are still getting in the way. Israel retains control of Gaza’s borders and air space, and it wants to install a video link on the Rafah crossing in order to monitor comings and goings. The Palestinians vehemently oppose this, although both sides have agreed to European Union monitors.