Haniya leaves Gaza for 1st time since '07

2011-12-25 19:05

Gaza City - Hamas Premier Ismail Haniya left the Gaza Strip for a regional tour on Sunday for the first time since Israel and Egypt imposed a siege in 2007, his office said.

Sources in his office told AFP that Haniya would visit Egypt and Sudan, after which he plans to go to Qatar, Turkey, Tunisia and Bahrain.

The primary purpose of the trip was to obtain "help and aid" to rebuild Gaza City, but Haniya was also likely to address the issue of Palestinian reconciliation in talks, they said.

Haniya entered Egypt through the Rafah crossing, recently opened after remaining largely shut since June 2006 when Israel imposed a blockade after militants snatched soldier Gilad Shalit, who was freed in October in a prisoner swap.

The tour begins three days after Palestinian factions, including Hamas, met in Cairo to thrash out implementation of a surprise deal they signed in April.

The two factions had previously been at loggerheads ever since Hamas seized Gaza in 2007, leaving the Palestinian territories with rival administrations.

On Thursday, Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas and Syria-based Hamas chief Khaled Meshaal discussed reforming the Palestine Liberation Organisation, in a bid to allow the Islamist movement and 13 other Palestinian factions to join.


Read more on:    hamas  |  ismail haniya  |  gaza strip  |  palestine  |  middle east peace
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