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Israel pushes Egyptian responsibility for Gaza

Israeli officials proposed that Egypt take over responsibility for supplying the Gaza Strip.

Israeli media quoted members of the Olmert government as saying Thursday that after tens of thousands of Palestinians overran the Gaza-Egypt border, there was an opportunity to demand that Cairo take care of the needs of the coastal territory.

Egypt currently supplies some electricity to Gaza but Palestinians there are otherwise dependent on Israel, a situation that Jerusalem wants to terminate, completing a “disengagement” begun in 2005.

“We need to understand that when Gaza is open to the other side, we lose responsibility for it. So we want to disengage from it,” Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilnai told Army Radio. “We are responsible as long as there is no alternative.”

Egypt controlled Gaza until Israel conquered the territory in the 1967 Six-Day War. It has made clear it does not want to return to ruling the congested and impoverished territory, especially as Gaza’s Hamas leadership is closely linked to the Egyptian Moslem Brotherhood, the most powerful opposition group in Cairo.

Egyptian officials have said the Palestinians who poured over the Gaza border on Wednesday after a barrier was blown up by gunmen would be returned and the barrier rebuilt.

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