WHAT IS EUBAM?
EUBAM is a European Union (EU) mission under Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP, ex-ESDP). It is a civilian and unarmed Mission, composed mainly of Police, Border Police and Customs officers. The Mission represents an EU contribution to the Middle East Peace Process (MEPP) in general, and to the implementation of the Agreement on Movement and Access (AMA) in particular. The AMA was agreed in November 2005. The role of EUBAM is to act as a neutral third party at the Rafah Crossing Point (RCP). The mandate of EUBAM comes from two documents finalized in November 2005 as a result of the AMA. They are the Agreed Principles for Rafah Crossing Point (APRC) and the Agreed Arrangements on the EUBAM at the RCP on the Gaza-Egypt border.
WHAT DOES EUBAM DO?
The main role of EUBAM is to actively monitor, verify and evaluate the performance of the Palestinian Authority (PA) with regard to the implementation of the Agreed Principles for Rafah Crossing Point (APRC) and to act with authority to ensure that the PA complies with all applicable rules and regulations. It does this by providing a monitoring team at RCP, and by leading a Liaison Office at Kerem Shalom, where the operations of the crossing are coordinated by PA and Israeli representatives.
EUBAM is also mandated to contribute to Palestinian capacity building in all aspects of border control.
By providing a neutral third party monitoring mechanism, EUBAM helps to build confidence between the Parties.
EUBAM mediates between the Parties when appropriate on issues relating to RCP.
Since October 2014, EUBAM Rafah launched its PA (Palestinian Authority) Preparedness Project aimed at enhancing the PA capabilities for a quick redeployment to the Rafah Crossing Point (RCP) and PA’s potential for future operating the RCP. The project focuses on achieving this through workshops, training sessions and study trips, during which the Mission provided the PA with enhanced competences receiving lessons learnt from the EU Schengen experience and by providing specific professional skills in planning and managing as well as technical training on customs, border police and security issues.
WHAT IS THE PRESENT SITUATION?
The operations of EUBAM were suspended on 13 June 2007 due to the Hamas takeover of the Gaza Strip. The European Union has a policy of no contact with Hamas.
Under the present circumstances and taking into account the importance of having the border open and ready to continue with the implementation of the AMA, EUBAM remains in the region with the operational capability to deploy at short notice.
On 23 May 2011 the Council confirmed the EU's readiness to reactivate the EUBAM Rafah Mission, once political
and security conditions allow, in order to ensure the EU third party role at the Rafah crossing point, as set out in the 2005 Agreement on Movement and Access.
On 10 December 2012, the council expressed its readiness to make use of its instruments in support of the parties’ efforts, including the possible reactivation, in the appropriate way, of the EUBAM Rafah mission. The European Union also underlined its readiness to explore further ways to address the situation in the Gaza Strip, including with concerned parties in the region , in line with UNSC Resolution 1860 (2009).
On 22 July 2014, the Council of the EU stressed that the EU stands ready, including through the reactivation of the EUBAM Rafah mission, if conditions allow, to contribute to a comprehensive and sustainable solution meeting the legitimate security, economic and humanitarian needs of Israelis and Palestinians.
WHAT IS EUBAM DOING NOW?
Since October 2014, EUBAM Rafah launched its PA (Palestinian Authority) Preparedness Project aimed at enhancing the PA capabilities for a quick redeployment to the Rafah Crossing Point (RCP) and PA’s potential for future operating the RCP. The project focuses on achieving this through workshops, training sessions and study trips, during which the Mission provided the PA with enhanced competences receiving lessons learnt from the EU Schengen experience and by providing specific professional skills in planning and managing as well as technical training on customs, border police and security issues. Due to the suspension of operations, the strength of the Mission has been reduced: currently, 4 international members and 5 local staff are dedicated to maintaining the Mission's operational capability. Their main tasks are to ensure the Mission's readiness to return to RCP at short notice, and liaise with the Parties on a regular basis. EUBAM also provides support to other EU operations when appropriate.
CAN EUBAM OPEN THE CROSSING POINT?
RCP can only be opened by agreement between the Parties. As third-party Mission, EUBAM does not have the authority to open the crossing point. However, the Mission participates, on the operational level, to EUs efforts in mediating between the Parties, in order to facilitate a return to the November 2005 agreements, or the implementation of any appropriate new agreements involving RCP.
WHY IS EUBAM BASED IN ISRAEL?
The original intention was to have the Mission in the Gaza Strip in a special-built compound at RCP, with the Mission Headquarters in Gaza City. Due to security , it was never possible to move into neither the compound nor the office. When RCP was in operations, EUBAM monitors travelled to RCP through Kerem Shalom. EUBAM Headquarters are currently in Tel Aviv. The Mission also has a field office in Gaza city.
DO YOU EXPECT THE CROSSING POINT TO OPEN AGAIN SOON?
The opening of the crossing point is dependent on the political situation and on agreement being reached between the Palestinian Authority and the Government of Israel. Agreement and cooperation will also be required from the Government of Egypt.
Past events have highlighted that the regular opening of the Rafah Crossing Point is vital to ensure freedom of movement for the population of the Gaza Strip.