Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak said Friday that no humanitarian aid would be transferred to Gaza without Israel's approval, and that Israel should control the goods crossings as "the occupational authority ruling the Gaza Strip", Al-Jazeera reported.
Meanwhile a Palestinian official said Egypt had begun an initiative to end the fighting in Gaza. The senior Palestinian official, who has been close to previous talks between Egypt and Hamas, said Egypt had started contacts with Hamas to discuss ideas about restoring a ceasefire to the strip.
The announcement came immediately after Mubarak accused Hamas of trying to take over the Rafah crossing, claiming that Hamas could not ask Egypt to open the crossing while declaring that the Palestinian territories are being occupied.
"They say 'Palestinian territory is occupied territory' – in occupied territory the occupier is the one in charge of what comes in and what goes out. The problem is that Hamas wants the crossing to itself," Mubarak said.
He claimed Hamas' refusal to allow members of Fatah to participate in the hajj pilgrimage was proof of this.
"As long as the land is occupied, Israel must observe what goes in – are weapons going in? Is ammunition going in? This is the status with Jordan and all of its crossings," the president added.
Osama Hamdan, Hamas' representative in Lebanon, responded heatedly. "This is very surprising," he said. "We expected sister Egypt to act responsibly towards the occurrences in Palestine, and especially Gaza."
He added, "It's surprising because international law states that the crossings must be open during war and we are at war. Thus all the talk about us being occupied is irrelevant."
Hamdan said Israel had no connection to the crossing whatsoever, as an agreement it had signed with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas had expired three years ago. "After that it was to become a Palestinian-Egyptian crossing," he said.
"We don't want the occupation to return to the crossing or any other part of the Palestinian territories from where it has left. Egypt is afraid of an attempt to place the burden of the Gaza Strip on its shoulders."