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European Union (EU)
25 November 2005
Brussels, 25 November 2005
EU High Representative for CFSP,
welcomes the opening of Rafah border crossing
EU High Representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy Javier Solana made the following comments on the occasion of the ceremony marking the opening of the border crossing point at Rafah (Gaza, Palestinian Territories) after the "Agreement on Movement and Access" between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. The EU is deploying a border assistance mission to monitor the operations of the Rafah border crossing point.
"The opening of Rafah is a great opportunity, it is a turning point. For the first time, Palestinians assume the responsibility to manage external borders. It is one important step towards eventual statehood. The EU, assisting in a spirit of partnership, will help make the agreements between Israelis and Palestinians work, through the mission led by Major-General Pistolese. The opening of Rafah is a welcome opportunity to improve living conditions for Palestinians.
Our presence in Rafah is proof of our commitment. The EU is determined to ensure that the agreements facilitated by Quartet Envoy Jim Wolfensohn work. This is done in full cooperation with the United States and our other Quartet partners, and in partnership with Egypt, whose positive contribution I welcome.
We are also in Gaza because we want to revive the peace process. Resolving the conflict is a key priority for Europe. We want to promote cooperation and trust between the parties and to contribute to Palestinian state-building. I am encouraged by the open and cooperative attitude we have found from both sides.
Today's events provide us with a chance to turn Gaza disengagement into a real opportunity to relaunch the peace process. Let us build on this positive momentum."
Enclosed: Factsheet on European Union Border Assistance Mission for the Rafah Crossing Point
EU COUNCIL SECRETARIAT
EU BAM Rafah/00
European Union Border Assistance Mission for the Rafah Crossing Point
(EU BAM Rafah)
The European Union (EU) has decided to establish a EU Border Assistance Mission at the Rafah Crossing Point (Gaza-Egypt border), in the framework of the European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP).
Code-named "EU BAM Rafah", the Mission has been established on the basis of the "Agreement on Movement and Access" reached between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA) on 15 November, and following an invitation by the Palestinian Authority and the Government of Israel.
Aims/Scope of EU BAM Rafah
The aim of "EU BAM Rafah" is to provide a Third Party presence in the Rafah Crossing Point in order to contribute, in co-operation with the European Community's institution building efforts, to the opening of the Rafah Crossing Point and to build up confidence between the Government of Israel and the Palestinian Authority. To this end, EU BAM Rafah will:
- actively monitor, verify and evaluate PA performance with regard to the implementation of the APRC (Agreed Principles for Rafah Crossing) and will act with authority to ensure that the PA complies with all applicable rules and regulations concerning the Rafah crossing point and the terms of the APRC;
- contribute to Palestinian capacity building in all aspects of border control and customs operation;
- contribute to the liaison between the Palestinian, Israeli and Egyptian authorities in all aspects regarding the management of the Rafah Crossing Point.
The Mission will not undertake substitution tasks. Responsibility for border and custom management will remain fully with the Palestinian Authority. The Palestinian Authority will implement procedures as established in the Framework Agreement.
The EU BAM Rafah will have the authority to ensure that the Palestinian Authority complies with all applicable rules and regulations concerning the Rafah crossing point and the terms of the Agreement between the parties. In case of non-compliance it has the authority to order the re-examination and reassessment of any passenger, luggage, vehicle or goods. While the request is being processed, the person, luggage, vehicle or cargo in question will not be allowed to leave the premises of the Rafah crossing point.
Size, Structure and Duration of the Mission
The operational phase of EU BAM Rafah will begin on 25 November 2005.
The Mission will have a duration of 12 months.
EU BAM Rafah will include approximately 70 personnel mainly seconded from EU Member States .
Major General Pietro Pistolese (Italy) has been appointed Head of Mission of EU BAM Rafah.
The EU's Political and Security Committee (PSC) will exercise, under the responsibility of the Council of the EU, the political control and strategic direction of the Mission. High Representative Javier Solana will give guidance to the Head of Mission through the EU Special Representative for the MEPP.