President Mohamed Morsy’s office on Monday confirmed that Egypt would not establish a free trade zone with the Gaza Strip in the border area of Rafah in North Sinai, after conflicting statements from both Egyptian and Palestinian officials.
“There is no such project,” said presidential spokesperson Yasser Ali. “It was an idea suggested in the media but never formally discussed, and we will not accept any violation of our sovereignty over our territories.”
On demonstrations by some Hamas members on the border between Egypt and Gaza against the demolition of tunnels, Ali said Egypt has the right to stop any violation of international laws and conventions, pointing out that the tunnels are open from the Egyptian side to allow passage for food and medicines in accordance with the law.
Sinai Development Authority chairman Major General Mohamed Shawky said on Friday that the Cabinet was considering the creation of three free trade zones along the Gaza border.
Namer Hammad, political advisor to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, had said that Egypt rejected requests from Hamas to create a free trade zone on border, but Hamas claimed that they were still waiting on a decision from the Morsy administration.
"We have not received any response from the Egyptian government so far in this regard," Taher al-Nunu, spokesperson for the former Hamas cabinet, told Al-Masry Al-Youm by telephone from Gaza last week.
Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm