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By Edward Yeranian
Cairo
30 December 2008

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak says Egypt will not fully open the border crossing into Gaza, unless Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is in control there. Meanwhile, Arab diplomats are preparing to discuss the crisis Wednesday.

Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas, left, meets with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in Cairo, 28 Dec 2008
Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas, left, meets with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in Cairo, 28 Dec 2008
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak is condemning Israel's military operations in the Gaza Strip and demanding that Israel and the Palestinian militant Hamas group resume a cease-fire.

In a televised address to the nation, Mr. Mubarak called on Israel to cease its military operations immediately:

He said Israel's leaders bear responsibility for their harsh assault on Palestinian human rights.

Israel began its offensive in Gaza when Hamas resumed cross-border rocket attacks after a six-month truce expired last week. Despite the airstrikes, Palestinian militants have fired many rockets and mortar shells into Israel since Monday.

Mr. Mubarak also called on Hamas to resume a cease-fire with Israel and reconcile with the Palestinian Authority of Palestinian President Abbas.

Mr. Mubarak said Egypt would not fully open its border with Gaza unless the Palestinian Authority is in control.

Hamas has ruled Gaza since 2007, after seizing control from Fatah forces loyal to President Abbas.  

Egypt has opened a crossing to allow wounded Palestinians to enter for medical treatment, and Egyptian authorities also allowed food and medical supplies to be delivered into Gaza.

Mr. Mubarak rejected criticism from Hezbollah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah for Egypt's failure to fully open the Gaza border.

Egypt, he said, has exerted a great deal of effort during the past six months to strengthen the Gaza truce, and then to renew it, while working for Palestinian unity. He said Egypt has allowed aid supplies into Gaza, and also supplied it with electricity.

Meanwhile, Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit was in Paris Tuesday fore a meeting of European Union foreign ministers on the crisis.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Hesham Youssef said Egypt is also working with Turkey to broker an end to Israel's military operations in Gaza and defended Egypt's handling of the Rafah border crossing, saying that "throwing the crossing 'wide open' is not an easy solution to the crisis."

Arab Foreign Ministers are to meet in Cairo Wednesday to discuss the crisis.

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