The Palestinians want an airport: Egypt should exert pressure on Israel to facilitate the reopening of the Palestinian airport in Gaza, Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas told Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak during a meeting in Cairo Wednesday.
"It's important for the Palestinians to operate the airport…as a symbol of the end of Israeli control in the (Gaza) Strip," Abbas said, and noted the airport's reopening requires a serious international effort.
"Now is the time to start implementing the Sharm el-Sheikh understandings…that commit Israel to undertake addition withdrawals from other West Bank cities," he said.
The two leaders met for a one-on-one session first, and were later joined by Palestinian Ministers Nabil Shaath, Muhammad Dahlan, and Saeb Erekat, as well as the Egyptian prime minister, foreign minister, and Intelligence Chief Omar Suleiman.
During the meeting, Abbas presented the Palestinian deployment following the Gaza withdrawal and said the Palestinians view the completion of the pullout with the utmost importance, to ensure it is "real."
The Palestinian leader also emphasized the importance of transferring Gaza's Rafah crossing to full Palestinian control and turning it into a Palestinian-Egyptian crossing.
Abbas hopes for further withdrawals
Abbas expressed similar sentiments regarding the opening of the Palestinian Dahaniya airport in Gaza and called on Egypt to continue exerting its influence to resolve the matter, so that the Palestinians are able to run their own affairs.
The Palestinian leader expressed his gratitude to Egypt for the support and aid it offers the PA and asked that Egypt also use its influence to ensure the Gaza Strip withdrawal is the beginning of a diplomatic process that will lead to further Israeli pullouts from the West Bank.
Abbas and Mubarak also discussed the security deployment following the Gaza exit and the role to be played by forces from both sides, particularly once Egyptian troops are deployed on the Gaza-Egypt border.