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"As is" reference - not a United Nations document

7 November 2005

EU agrees to Gaza border monitoring mission

European Union foreign ministers agreed Monday to an EU supervisory role at the Gaza-Egypt border, based on an agreement between all sides, they said.

Israeli authorities last week approved a decision to reopen the Rafah terminal under joint Egyptian and Palestinian control, with European observers monitoring the crossing and real-time surveillance by Israeli cameras.

In a joint statement after talks in Brussels, the EU ministers voiced their "willingness in principle to provide assistance with the operation of crossings at Gaza's borders on the basis of an agreement between the parties."

The ministers "looked forward to receiving a full report from the scoping mission visiting the region, as the basis for an early decision on EU involvement and timely planning" they added.

The fate of the Rafah terminal has been in limbo since before Israeli ground troops withdrew from Gaza in mid-September. The crossing is the Palestinians' only land access to the outside world that does not go through Israel.

The EU's Middle East envoy Marc Otte, visiting the region at the weekend, presented a document setting out the proposed powers EU observers would enjoy at the Rafah crossing once it reopened.

"The EU team gave us documents explaining the limitations of their work and about their role in monitoring the operations at Rafah," said Palestinian prime minister Ahmed Qorei after talks with Otte.

"We will discuss it and give them an answer as soon as possible," he told reporters.

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