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Saturday, January 6, 2007

Egypt lets Haniyeh smuggle $20 m.

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/01/egypt-lets-haniyeh-smuggle-20-m.html

Egypt lets Haniyeh smuggle $20 m.

http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1167467672312&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FSh

Egyptian officials at the Rafah crossing allowed Palestinian Authority President Ismail Haniyeh to smuggle 20 million dollars into the Gaza Strip when he returned from the haj pilgrimage on Thursday, Israel Radio reported Saturday.

The Israel Radio report cited comments made to the Egyptian newspaper El-Ha'aram by an Egyptian customs authority official at the Rafah crossing.

According to the official, Haniyeh "acted lawfully" by declaring the sum of cash in his possession on the Egyptian side of the crossing.

However, European officials charged with monitoring the terminal said to Israel Radio that the Egyptians stated that the PA president was not carrying foreign currency. more...

During their meeting in Sharm el-Sheik last week, President Hosni Mubarak reportedly told Prime Minister Olmert that Egyptian law does not obligate individuals to declare the amount of money in their possession when they leave the country.

A government minister told Israel Radio that Olmert is expected to raise the subject of the cash smuggling when the cabinet convenes its weekly meeting on Sunday.

The EU is a neutral, third party monitor at the Rafah crossing. It has a mandate to report on activity at the crossing, but it has no authority to impose conditions. The issue of cash smuggling through the Rafah crossing is of particular concern to the Israelis and to Western governments who fear the funds are going to support terrorism either directly or through the Hamas government.

Gen. Pietro Pistolese, head of the European Union's monitoring mission in Rafah, told reporters on December 21 that the Palestinian Authority's Fatah forces, which operate that border crossing, have committed themselves to resolving the problem of cash smuggling into Gaza.

'It's not an agreement, it's a commitment. This commitment was expressed yesterday morning [December 20] at the committee of Palestinians, Israelis and EU officials who met to discuss issues relating to the border crossing,' Pistolese said.

Pistolese said the EU knew of some $60 million in cash that had passed through the Rafah border crossing. While Pistolese spoke in strong language about the need to stop the flow of money, he said that what had been secured from the Palestinians was a commitment to finding a solution rather than an agreement to stop the smuggling all together.

Pistoles's comments came a week after Haniyeh crossed was barred entry for hours by Israel because he was apparently carrying some $35 million in cash in his luggage. His delayed entry sparked a series of clashes on the Palestinian side of the Rafah border crossing that left 18 people wounded.

The casualties occurred when Hamas gunmen attacked the terminal and exchanged gunfire with Palestinian Authority security personnel linked to Fatah and with Egyptian security personnel.


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