Gaza: Implement the Agreement on Movement and Access
In November 2005,
shortly after withdrawing its settlers and ground troops from Gaza, Israel
signed the Agreement on Movement and Access . The Agreement provided for, amongst other
continuous operation of crossings between Israel
and Gaza for
the import and export of goods and the transit of people
a crossing between Gaza and Egypt at Rafah for the export of goods and the transit of people
the building of a seaport in Gaza
re-opening of the airport in Gaza
bus and truck convoys between the West Bank and Gaza
These arrangements were drawn up by former head of
the World Bank, James Wolfensohn, who was then
Special Envoy for Gaza Disengagement for the Quartet (US, EU, Russia and the UN
This agreement was supposed “to promote peaceful
economic development and improve the humanitarian situation on the ground” in Gaza (to quote from its
preamble) in the wake of Israeli disengagement.
But, instead of implementing the provisions of the agreement, Israel imposed an economic blockade on Gaza, which has brought
untold misery to its people.
Condoleezza Rice promises
Condoleezza Rice (US
Secretary of State) and Javier Solana (EU High Representative for the Common
Foreign and Security Policy) launched the Agreement at a press conference in Jerusalem on 15 November
2005. At the launch, Condoleezza Rice
“This agreement is
intended to give the Palestinian people freedom to move, to trade, to live
“First, for the first time since 1967,
Palestinians will gain control over entry and exit from their territory. This
will be through an international crossing at Rafah,
whose target opening date is November 25th.
“Second, Israel and the Palestinians will upgrade and
expand other crossings for people and cargo between Israel,
Gaza and the West Bank.
This is especially important now because Israel
has committed itself to allow the urgent export of this season’s agricultural
produce from Gaza.
will be able to move between Gaza and the West Bank; specifically, bus convoys are to begin about a
month from now and truck convoys are to start a month after that.
“Fourth, the parties
will reduce obstacles to movement within the West Bank.
It has been agreed that by the end of the year the United
States and Israel will complete work to lift
these obstacles and develop a plan to reduce them.
“Fifth, construction of
a Palestinian seaport can begin. The Rafah model will
provide a basis for planned operations.
“Sixth, the parties
agree on the importance of the airport. Israel recognizes that the
Palestinian Authority will want to resume construction on the airport. I am
to consider allowing construction to resume as this agreement is successfully
implemented -- construction that could, for instance, be limited to non-aviation
This is what the US/EU promised the people of Gaza in November 2005 in
the Agreement on Movement and Access.
Nearly a decade later, none of it has been delivered. For most of that time, Gaza
has been subject to a brutal economic blockade by Israel and the US/EU, the sponsors
of the agreement, have stood idly by and let it happen.
From time to time, the EU has voiced the opinion
that the blockade should be lifted, for example, in European Council
conclusions in December 2012, which stated that “the European Union reiterates
its call for the immediate, sustained and unconditional opening of crossings
for the flow of humanitarian aid, commercial goods and persons to and from the
Gaza Strip” . But it hasn’t lifted a finger to bring this
In the same conclusions, the EU stated that “it is
vital that all parts of the ceasefire agreement are implemented”. The ceasefire agreement mentioned here is the
one, brokered by Egypt a few
weeks earlier, which brought to an end Israel’s
second major military offensive against Gaza. This agreement included a commitment by Israel
to “opening the crossings and
facilitating the movement of people and transfer of goods, and refraining from
restricting residents free movement” . Israel didn’t implement this or any
other aspect of the ceasefire agreement – see Sadaka
Briefing Will Israel implement an
agreement with Hamas? History suggests NO 
– but the EU hasn’t uttered a word of reproof against Israel for
failing to do so.
In November 2005, the arrangements contained in the
Agreement on Movement and Access were deemed necessary
to maintain and develop the economic life of Gaza.
With Gaza’s economy in ruins due to Israel’s economic blockade and its periodic
destruction of Gaza’s
economic infrastructure, these arrangements are even more vital today.