Egypt, the Rafah Border and the Prospects for Gaza

Led by Dag Henrik Tuastad

Dec 2010 – Dec 2011

This project is motivated by the need to critically understand the prospective role of Egypt in providing Gaza with a functioning border. As the only sovereign country bordering Gaza aside from Israel, it is vital to understand the perspectives of Egyptian stakeholders and policy-makers, and how the different concerns and interests of key Egyptian stakeholders inform Egypt’s management of the Rafah border. The proposed study will investigate the multi-layered interests in the tunnel economy, analyze the views of Egyptian political parties and NGOs on the management of the Rafah border, and identify key factors that impact on the opening and closing of the border crossing, the closing of tunnels, and the construction of the underground steel barrier along the Egypt-Gaza border. In the face of an exacerbated humanitarian crisis and continued blockade of the Gaza Strip, there is a vital need to understand the role of Egypt as it is played out in the management of the Rafah border.

This project will answer two interrelated questions with respect to Egypt at the Rafah border and the prospect of Gaza:

  • How do the various interests of Egyptian stakeholders affect Egypt’s management of the Rafah border, particularly with regard to the opening and closing of the border crossing, and the closing of tunnels?
  • How do the agendas of Egyptian stakeholders with regard to border management differ from the agendas of other main parties involved in the conflict, including donor countries, Israel and the Palestinan authorities?

As the leading aid donor to the Palestinian Authority (PA), the Norwegian government is invested in working towards a sustained improvement of the socioeconomic conditions in Gaza. In the face of worsening humanitarian conditions and a continued Israeli blockade, there is a need for stronger cooperation and communication between leading donor countries to the PA and those Egyptian actors living closest to the civil insecurities manifested along the Rafah border. The aim of this project is to provide the Norwegian government with a systematic analysis of the role of stakeholders in Egypt and their potential impact on the management of the Rafah border.

The project is funded by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

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