Photo Credit: Abed Rahim Khatib / Flash 90
The Rafah border crossing.

Hamas on Wednesday turned over control of the Rafah crossing with Egypt to the Palestinian Authority, and so, for the first time in more than 10 years, the PA has full rule over the Gaza Strip’s connection to the outside world other than to Israel.

United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov welcomed the Gaza Strip’s Rafah crossing return to Palestinian Authority control, calling the move it a landmark development.

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“I welcome the full return of the Gaza crossings to the control of the Palestinian Authority,” Mladenov said in a statement. “This is a landmark development in the implementation of the intra-Palestinian agreement, signed in Cairo on October 12. The positive momentum should be maintained and the Palestinian Government must be fully empowered to function in Gaza.”

Mladenov added that “the return of the crossings should facilitate the lifting of the closures, while addressing Israel’s legitimate security concerns, and unlock increased international support for Gaza’s reconstruction, growth, stability and prosperity.”

The UN official also said the move represented an opportunity “to remind all factions in Gaza of the importance of maintaining security and ending militant activities that undermine peace and security for both Palestinians and Israelis alike.”

He vowed that the United Nations “will continue to work with the Palestinian leadership, Egypt and the region in support of this process, which is critical for reaching a negotiated two-state solution and sustainable peace.”

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