Haniyeh to leave Tuesday on first trip abroad

Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas is to leave later Tuesday on a tour of Muslim countries, his office said, his first trip abroad since the anti-Israel Hamas took office in March, provoking crushing international economic sanctions on the Palestinian government. His office said Monday that the trip would have to be postponed, because Israel was blocking access to the Rafah crossing between Gaza and Egypt by the European monitors without whom the passage - Gaza's gateway to the world - does not operate, but the IDF said Tuesday morning that the crossing was opening and Haniyeh's aides said he would make the trip as planned. The passage has been closed often since Israel pulled its troops and settlers out of Gaza more than a year ago. Haniyeh's month long tour is to take him to Egypt, Lebanon, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Syria and Iran, an official in his office said, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.