Hamas hopes blockade end in sight

Arab League head in Gaza: Reconstruction can’t take place under siege.

Haniyeh & Amr Moussa, Arab League 311 (photo credit: Associated Press)
Haniyeh & Amr Moussa, Arab League 311
(photo credit: Associated Press)
Hamas expressed hope on Sunday that a visit by Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa to the Gaza Strip would pave the way for the lifting of the four-year-old blockade on the area.
Moussa said upon his arrival in the Gaza Strip that the blockade must end. He said that all the Arab countries should support the Palestinians in their battle against the blockade.
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“The process of reconstruction can’t take place while the Gaza Strip is still under siege,” Moussa said. “This will be our next step and we are working to lift the siege.”
Moussa held talks with Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh and other senior officials from the Islamist movement.
He also visited the UNRWA headquarters in Gaza City, where he was briefed by heads of the organization on their efforts to help the local population.
Haniyeh described Moussa’s visit to the Gaza Strip as “historic,” saying it was a step toward breaking the blockade.
Speaking to reporters after a two-hour-meeting at his home in Shati refugee camp, Haniyeh said he also discussed with Moussa ways of ending the crisis between Hamas and Fatah.
Haniyeh said he hoped the Arab League would follow up on its earlier decision to work toward ending the blockade on the Gaza Strip. He said that he heard “positive statements” from Moussa in this regard.
Yusef Rizka, a political adviser to Haniyeh, said that the visit signaled the beginning of the end of the blockade. He also called on the Arab League to fulfill its promise to provide financial aid to Gaza residents.
Moussa toured the Zeitoun neighborhood of Gaza City and met with Palestinian families who lost their relatives and whose houses were damaged during Operation Cast Lead.
He said that the Arab countries have allocated financial aid to help rebuild houses that were destroyed during the Israeli operation.
He added that the money has been deposited in banks in anticipation of the lifting of the blockade.
The top Arab diplomat also urged Hamas and Fatah to end their power struggle.
In a related development, the Egyptian authorities have agreed to allow an Iranian parliamentary delegation to visit the Gaza Strip, according to Mahmoud Ahmadi, a parliament member in Teheran.
He said that he and some of his colleagues were informed on Sunday by the Egyptians that their request to visit the Gaza Strip through the Rafah border crossing had been approved.
No date has been set for the visit, which would be the first of its kind by an official Iranian delegation.
Ahmadi said that at least three parliament members have expressed their desire to be part of the Iranian delegation.
In Ramallah, a Palestinian Authority official expressed concern over increased visits to the Gaza Strip by Arab and Islamic delegations.
The official also voiced concern over Moussa’s visit to the Gaza Strip.
The official said that such visits boost Hamas and undermine the PA government in the West Bank.