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Egypt's FM hits back at UN middle east envoy in Gaza row

Egyptian foreign ministry condemns statement made by UN middle east envoy Robert Serry over 'failed policies' comments

Ahram Online , Tuesday 3 Mar 2015
Sameh Shoukry
Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry (Photo: Reuters)
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Egypt’s foreign ministry denounced on Tuesday a statement made by the United Nations' envoy to the Middle East Robert Serry concerning the ongoing crisis in Gaza; saying that he is “blaming others for his failure to achieve his mission in the Gaza strip.”

The foreign ministry's statement condemned Serry’s inability to negotiate with Israeli officials, as they have been the occupying power in the Gaza Strip and the legal power responsible for allowing the entrance of basic necessities to the Palestinian people.

“Serry has tried to shift his responsibility for the Gaza strip onto Egypt when he pointed to the closure of the Rafah crossing,” the FM statement read.

In a statement released on Monday after his last visit to Gaza, the UN special coordinator for the Middle East peace process urged "all stakeholders, including the GNC, Palestinian factions, Israel, Egypt, the international community and donors, to change their failed policies and adopt a "'Gaza first' strategy."

Serry has also expressed concerns about the Gaza Strip which - according to him - is more isolated than ever considering that the Rafah border crossing is "practically closed.”

Egypt temporarily opens its Rafah border crossing with the Gaza Strip for humanitarian reasons.

However, Cairo has kept the Rafah crossing to the Israeli-besieged Gaza Strip closed for extended periods of time since the ouster of the Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in June 2013.

The FM has stressed Egypt's right to take all the necessary measures to protect its borders and citizens as part of its sovereignty.

The relationship between Egypt's authorities and the Islamist Hamas group that controls the strip have soured since the ouster of Morsi.

Last Saturday a Cairo court ruled Hamas a terrorist organisation, a month after the group's military wing, the Al-Qassam Brigades, was also designated a terror group by the same court.

Serry, whose seven-year mandate is set to expire shortly, also expressed his understanding of the needs of the Palestinian people.

“I fully understand the frustration of people in Gaza,” the special coordinator declared. “Many of those who now have access to building materials lack the money to buy them or to carry out the works,” the statement read.

According to a recent UN assessment, over 100,000 homes were damaged or destroyed in Gaza during last summer’s 51-day conflict between Israel and local militants, the most prominent being the de facto rulers of the strip, Hamas. The destruction affected more than 600,000 people and many still lack access to the municipal water network.

In addition, the violence killed more than 2,100 Palestinians and more than 70 Israelis.

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