Airport officials deny rumours of open-entry to Palestinians

Hend Kortam
4 Min Read
Queues form outside of Cairo Airport

Multiple news reports on Monday that Egypt is allowing Palestinians entry into the country without restrictions are being denied by Cairo airport officials.

An airport security official told the Daily News Egypt that immigration officials had not changed their policy toward Palestinians.  In a press release sent out to a number of Arab publications, airport authorities confirmed there had been no changes to immigration policies for Palestinians.

The Associated Press reported that seven Palestinians entered Egypt through Cairo International Airport on Monday without having to go through the routine paperwork. The news reports, if true would have meant that it would be easier for Palestinians to both enter and leave the country whether from the Gaza Strip, which has been under siege since 2007, or the West Bank.

Political analyst and university professor Fayek Fahim, said the decision to lift the siege on Gaza, if taken, has three dimensions. “One for the Palestinians, one for the Israelis and a third for the Egyptians,” said Fahim.

“The move will represent the opening of another lung for Palestinians, which Israel will see as a possibility for them to get weapons. The Egyptians want to ease the Palestinians’ suffering. The lifting of the siege will be good news for Palestinians and it will be the natural development,” said Fahim.

These reports came only weeks after President Morsy took the oath-of office. Fahim believes that if Egypt really decided to lift the siege, the decision would not be announced and would only become a matter of fact.

“It is not in Egypt’s best interest to announce the decision. It is preferable to keep the decision on low radar in order to avoid criticisms from the US, the first defender of Israel,” he added.

Fahim believes that there are issues that have to be taken into account should the Egyptian government decide to make such a decision. Chief among them, Fahim said, is whether Egypt will make a decision to “stop subservience to Israel,” which could lead to an escalation of tension between the two countries.

Following Morsy’s victory, many in Gaza where hoping for drastic changes in Egypt’s policy toward Israel, particularly since Hamas is an affiliate organization to the Muslim Brotherhood. Prominent leaders from the Islamic Resistance movement, also known as Hamas, congratulated Morsy for his victory.

Gazans were largely disappointed during ousted president Hosny Mubarak’s era, in which he cooperated with Israel to impose the siege on Gaza, which entered its fifth year last June. Even before the final results of the Egyptian elections were in, celebrations were underway in Gaza heralding Morsy’s victory.

Thus far, the new leadership in Egypt has not spelled out a new policy for the Gazans. Similarly, Morsy has made no indication that he plans to change the status quo by lifting the siege on Gaza or the opening of the Rafah border crossing.

During her visit to Egypt followed by Israel last week, United States Secretary of State Hilary Clinton reportedly assured Israeli officials that Egypt’s new president would only focus on domestic matters.

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