EU looking at potential role monitoring Rafah crossing

High-ranking official from bloc says ‘we received demarches from different parties including Israel’ about reopening monitoring mission at border, which was shuttered in 2007

This image grab taken from footage released by the Israeli army on May 7, 2024 shows the 401st Brigade's combat team tanks entering the Palestinian side of the Rafah border crossing between Gaza and Egypt in the southern Gaza Strip on May 7, 2024.  (Photo by Fayez Nureldine / Israeli Army / AFP)
This image grab taken from footage released by the Israeli army on May 7, 2024 shows the 401st Brigade's combat team tanks entering the Palestinian side of the Rafah border crossing between Gaza and Egypt in the southern Gaza Strip on May 7, 2024. (Photo by Fayez Nureldine / Israeli Army / AFP)

The European Union is studying whether it could play a role monitoring the Rafah border crossing between Gaza and Egypt after Israel’s war with Hamas ends, officials said Friday.

The 27-nation bloc set up a mission in 2005 to help monitor the crossing but that was suspended two years later after the Islamist terror group Hamas took control of Gaza.

“We received demarches from different parties including Israel whether we could study the possibility to reopen it (the EU mission),” a high-ranking EU official said.

The official said EU foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell would likely get a green light from European ministers meeting in Brussels on Monday to draw up options for a potential redeployment of an EU mission.

“Obviously this would not be in the current circumstances, not in war circumstances. We are talking about the future,” the official said.

A European diplomat cautioned that the EU — which has struggled to come to a unified position on the Gaza war — was still at the “very beginning of the possible process” towards launching the mission.

The Rafah border crossing has been closed since Israel launched the operation to take over the Gazan side of the Rafah Crossing with Egypt on May 7. Not wanting to be seen as complicit with Israel’s military operation to take over the crossing, Egypt has refused to re-open Rafah until Israeli troops have withdrawn from the other side.

For weeks, the US and Israel have urged Cairo to at least allow the growing amount of aid in Egypt to be transferred to Israel where it can be delivered into Gaza through the Kerem Shalom Crossing, which Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi temporarily agreed to Friday following a call with US President Joe Biden until legal mechanisms were in place to reopen Rafah.

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