It looks like you're using an Ad Blocker.
Please white-list or disable AboveTopSecret.com in your ad-blocking tool.
Some features of ATS will be disabled while you continue to use an ad-blocker.
The head of the Arab League visited Gaza on Sunday, effectively ending the Arab world’s isolation of Hamas and placing the league at odds with the U.S view that Hamas should be shunned until it renounces violence and recognizes Israel.
Arab League chief Amr Moussa, who crossed into southern Gaza from Egypt, became the first senior Arab political figure to visit the territory since Hamas seized control from Mahmoud Abbas’ Palestinian Authority by force in 2007.
Moussa held talks with Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, who called the visit “historic” and predicted it would advance the campaign to end Israel’s blockade. Moussa said the Arab League – a grouping of 22 Arab states – was “working to lift the siege.”
While the Arab League call for the blockade to be lifted is not new, the visit was significant, given its implied recognition of the legitimacy of the Hamas administration.
Hamas’ Syria-based leader Khaled Meshaal travels widely in the Arab world but the Gaza-based leadership has largely been off-limits since the 2007 coup.
Moussa’s visit is the latest sign of mounting international pressure on Israel following its deadly May 31 boarding of a flotilla of ships trying to break the blockade.
In conjunction with its partners in the so-called Mideast “Quartet” – the European Union, Russia and the United Nations – Washington laid down criteria for engaging with Hamas: It would first have to recognize Israel, renounce violence, and adhere to previous agreements signed between Israeli and P.A. leaders.
Hamas refused, and in the ensuing months, tensions between it and the Fatah-led P.A. grew, eventually leading to Hamas seizing control after routing P.A. forces loyal to the West Bank-based Abbas.
With an Iranian-backed group whose charter calls for Israel’s destruction ruling Gaza, Israel sealed the crossing-points, and the blockade was later tightened in response to rocket attacks from the territory.
The Egyptian government, a longstanding ally of the P.A., also closed its border with Hamas after the coup, a stance that drew strong criticism at times from other Arab states.
Apart from its support for Abbas, Egypt also was leery about Gaza being controlled by an organization which emerged from Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, a formally banned but powerful group opposed to President Hosni Mubarak’s regime. Egypt has, however, sought to mediate unity talks between Hamas and Fatah.