Hamas: Blair to visit Gaza this week

Visit would be first since Hamas takeover in June 2007; no word on whether he'll meet Hamas leaders.

Blair 248 88 ap (photo credit: AP [file])
Blair 248 88 ap
(photo credit: AP [file])
Mideast envoy Tony Blair will visit the Gaza Strip this week, a Hamas spokesman announced Monday. It would be Blair's first visit to Gaza since Hamas seized control there in June 2007. The international community does not recognize Hamas's Gaza government. They fear any visit could be construed as approval of the terrorist group. Hamas spokesman Ismail Ridwan said his group will make security arrangements for Blair. He did not say whether Blair would meet with Hamas officials. Palestinian businessmen said Blair intends to meet traders and inspect a northern Gaza waste water project being built with international funds. They spoke on condition of anonymity because the visit has not been officially confirmed. Palestinian officials declined to specify the day Blair will arrive, citing security concerns. Blair's office would not comment. Government spokesman Mark Regev declined to comment directly on a Blair visit to Gaza but said Israel supported Blair's work. "We believe that trying to build more healthy Palestinian institutions to encourage the growth of the Palestinians economy is good for the Palestinians and for Israel," he said.