RAFAH, Gaza Strip, AP -Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said Israeli and Palestinian negotiators would hold an emergency meeting Sunday to resolve a standoff over Gaza’s main cargo crossing.
The Palestinians say Israeli security measures at the Karni crossing have caused a humanitarian crisis in Gaza, with shortages of dairy goods and bread.
Israel, which has closed Karni for most of the past two months due to security concerns, has offered to open an alternative crossing. The Palestinians reject the offer.
Abbas said the meeting would take place in Tel Aviv under the leadership of U.S. Ambassador Richard Jones, and attended by Egyptian and European officials. He said “all issues related to the crossings” would be discussed.
“We know that there is a developing problem of basic food goods, like wheat and other things,” Abbas told a news conference. “This will be discussed today and for sure we will find solutions, in addition to (discussing) the security protocol.”
Karni provides the primary gateway for goods entering and exiting Gaza. Boosting cargo traffic through Karni was a key aspect of an agreement brokered by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in November — an effort to give peace efforts momentum after Israel’s pullout from the Gaza Strip.
But the deal was never implemented, with Israel saying Palestinian militants plan to attack the crossing. Israeli officials criticized the Palestinians for rejecting an offer to use an alternative crossing.
“We don’t understand why the Palestinians refuse to have the Kerem Shalom crossing open to bring in required and needed produce into Gaza,” said foreign ministry spokesman Mark Regev.
The Palestinians say use of the Kerem Shalom is not mentioned in the November agreement. They also complain that the crossing is entirely in Israeli territory and that no sufficient link to Gaza has been established yet.