'No free-trade zone with Gaza' says Egypt presidency

Ahram Online, Monday 1 Oct 2012

During a press conference held on Monday, Morsi's spokesperson stated that Egypt has never officially discussed creating a free-trade zone with Gaza

Egyptian army with heavy machinery used to destroy tunnels linking Egypt and the Gaza (Photo: Reuters)

Presidential spokesperson Yasser Ali said on Monday that Egypt has no intention of establishing a free-trade zone with the Gaza Strip.

"This was just an idea proposed by the media, and was never looked into or discussed officially," added Ali during a press conference held at the presidential palace.

On Thursday deputy head of Hamas Mostafa Abu-Marzouk had told Ahram Online that Egypt has not given up on the idea of establishing a free-trade zone with Gaza. Marzouk also added that it was an Egyptian idea in the first place.

The free-trade zone would offer an alternative to the informal trade through illegal tunnels between the two countries. The tunnels have been prospering since the borders were tightly sealed to all commercial traffic in 2006.

Following the militant attack that killed 16 Egyptian border guards by the Israel-Egypt border on 5 August, a crackdown was initiated by Egyptian authorities on the tunnels.

During the press conference Ali refused to comment on current demonstrations held by Palestinians to protest the crackdown on the tunnels, commenting only that: "We will not allow any violations on Egypt's sovereignty from whomever."

Ali for his part stressed that borders between Egypt and Gaza are opened "by the law" to ensure the passing of food, medicine, and students "abiding by our responsibilities towards our Palestinian brothers chained in Gaza."

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