Israel and the Palestinian Authority have agreed to reopen the Gaza Strip and allow freer movement of Palestinians. Under the agreement, the Rafah border will be operated by Palestinian and Egyptian border officials under the supervision of European monitors. Israel can monitor the crossing by way of closed circuit television and raise objections concerning travelers, but the Palestinians will have the final say. In addition, Palestinians will be able to travel between the West Bank and Gaza in bus convoys and construction of a Gaza seaport will begin soon.
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice says that the lifting of restrictions on movement will improve the lives of both Palestinians and Israelis:
"As Palestinians move back and forth to the outside world, as they trade with their Israeli neighbors, the lives of ordinary people on both sides will change for the better."
The opening of the Rafah border crossing, said Ms. Rice, is an important step for Palestinians:
"It is a major step forward for the Palestinian people in their own movement toward independence in this region, and that is that they have control on one side, the Egyptians on the other. It’s an international border. It will need a third party and obviously nobody wants to have this be a border that is unsafe and so I suspect that everybody will cooperate as much as they possibly can."
While the Gaza border opening is a major step, Secretary of State Rice said that "a long road" still lies ahead. The ultimate goal: two states living side-by-side in peace and security. To achieve that, the Palestinian Authority must put a stop to terrorism and establish law and order in the Palestinian territories. The United States and other countries are committed to helping them achieve these goals.
The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States Government.