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Egypt to increase trade with Gaza

The Egyptian authorities have pledged to increase commercial trade with Gaza and keep Rafah crossing open, regardless of an absence of Palestinian Authority (PA) staff, Hamas sources told MEMO today.

The sources said that Egypt would develop the work of Rafah crossing on both the Egyptian and Gazan side, pledging to increase trade to fulfill the economic needs of the besieged Gaza Strip. The move also aims to afford enough revenue for Hamas – which governs the Gaza Strip – to be able to pay its staff and avoid Israeli pressure on its finances.

In addition, the sources said that the understandings between Hamas and Egypt – which were reached during meetings in the Strip yesterday – have been supported by the UN, which asked Egypt to increase the number of truckloads entering Gaza.

A delegation of Egyptian intelligence and the UN representative for the Middle East Peace Process, Nickolay Mladenov, had met with leader of Hamas, Ismail Haniyeh, yesterday to discuss the political situation and the Great March of Return, which has been ongoing in the Strip since March.

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Meanwhile, the Egyptian delegation confirmed that Rafah crossing would remain open, despite the position of the PA and the absence of its staff.

However, the Egyptians also stressed that Hamas must maintain calm in the Strip and slow the Great March of Return, including preventing the burning of tires and cutting the Israeli border fence.

The UN also pledged to start temporary jobs programmes to benefit thousands of unemployed Gazans before the end of the month, in cooperation with the Palestinian Ministry of Labour in Gaza and international NGOs.

The UN also reiterated that the Qatari funds donated to poor families in Gaza would continue to enter the Strip every month, promising to increase the number of beneficiaries.