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Press spotlights Egypt's role in Gaza

Palestinians on a destroyed section of the border wall at Rafah, in the Gaza Strip
Egypt says it will not force Palestinians back to Gaza

Newspapers in Israel do not hide their glee at the prospect of Cairo taking the lead in efforts to contain the crisis on its border with Gaza as thousands of Palestinians continue to stream into Egypt. However a leading daily fears that with no-one clearly in charge it is time for international deal on policing the border crossings.

A paper loyal to the Fatah-run Palestinian Authority accuses Hamas of trying to use the crisis to turn Arabs against Egypt, but a Hamas-run daily defends the surge as a last resort to prevent a humanitarian disaster.

In Egypt, two pro-government dailies urge Israel to ease its blockade of Gaza and call on Hamas to work for Palestinian unity and stop rocket attacks on Israel.

ALEX FISHMAN IN ISRAEL'S YEDIOT AHARONOT

Until midday on Wednesday the feeling prevailed in Israel that the strategy of pressure levers had failed. By evening the mood changed. Some of the security establishment top brass began to like the situation. "There is here an extraordinary opportunity to roll the responsibility for the Gaza Strip to Egypt. Let them supply food, electricity, fuel and water. The Israeli wet dream could still materialise. For with the exception of the Egyptian government - that scored own goal - all are happy."

ISRAEL'S HA'ARETZ

The closure imposed by Israel and Egypt on the Gaza Strip a year ago was effectively lifted yesterday. Even if Egypt closes the border again, it will be forced to reopen it, at least partially, whenever there is pressure... The Egyptians could now become the unwitting leaders in finding a workable solution.

ZVI BAREL IN ISRAEL'S HA'ARETZ

Both Egypt and Israel are trapped in the same problem. First, who will repair the barrier? Will the Hamas authorities permit Egypt to rebuild it? Will Israel be able to rebuild it? At least until the barrier can be repaired, Egypt will have to assign officials to oversee the border traffic... Such an arrangement will make Egypt directly responsible for this unofficial border crossing... Egypt will have to work out the arrangement with Hamas without eliminating the power of influence of President Abbas - in other words, it will have to get the Palestinian Authority and Hamas talking again.

YA'AKOV KATZ IN ISRAEL'S JERUSALEM POST

Without even knowing it, Egypt has helped Israel to complete the disengagement from the Gaza Strip. Up until the restrictions clamped on the crossings late last week, Israel was responsible for facilitating the daily transfer of food, medical supplies, fuel, gasoline and other necessities into Gaza... All of this was being done while Qassam rockets pounded the western Negev. Egypt's decision to open its border shows that Israel has an alternative.

MUWAFAQ MATAR IN PALESTINIAN AL-HAYAT AL-JADIDAH

What happened in Rafah was a war against our sister country Egypt in an attempt to portray it as a country supporting the siege on the Gaza Strip. After the failure to instigate public feeling against Egypt, those who have hidden agendas sent the public to the gates of the Rafah crossing and pushed Palestinian women to clash with the Egyptian security forces.

TALAL AWKAL IN PALESTINIAN AL-AYYAM

The Israeli tightening of the siege lately on the Gaza Strip was not another round of aggression and escalation the Palestinians have grown used to. This was rather part of the war that [Israeli Prime Minister] Ehud Olmert has announced against all the Palestinians and their cause under the guise of what he calls the war on terror in Gaza. This war reveals to a great extent how dangerous a weak and fragile government can be.

HASAN ABU-HASHISH IN HAMAS-RUN FILASTIN

Blowing up the border wall with Egypt was a public move caused by a great humanitarian need. We urge Egypt not to consider it a violation of Egyptian sovereignty which we appreciate and respect.

MUSTAFA AL-SAWAF IN HAMAS-RUN FILASTIN

Egypt is a great country once it breaks free from constraints, pressure and conditions. This is the Egypt that the Palestinians always knew. Our blood was shed on our land as well as on Egyptian soil. However, this blood will not give any fruits if our great sister Egypt does not open the Rafah crossing.

EGYPT'S PRO-GOVERNMENT AL-AKHBAR

Israel must realize that the strangling and blockade may turn the Strip into a time bomb that could explode at any time in the face of Israel first, not to mention the impact of this on the security and stability in the entire region.

EGYPT'S PRO-GOVERNMENT AL-AHRAM

If Israel is largely responsible for the suffering of Gaza residents, Hamas is not free from responsibility either. There are two reasons for this. The first is the escalation of its differences with the PA and Fatah to the level of fighting and seizing [Fatah's] HQ in Gaza last year. The second reason is permitting the launch of rockets.

BBC Monitoring selects and translates news from radio, television, press, news agencies and the internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages. It is based in Caversham, UK, and has several bureaux abroad.




SEE ALSO
The press in Israel
08 May 06 |  Middle East
Pressure on Gaza's border mounts
24 Jan 08 |  Middle East

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