x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Hamas premier leaves Gaza Strip for first time since 2007

Ismail Haniya left the Gaza Strip for a regional tour for the first time since Israel and Egypt imposed a siege in 2007, according to his office.

GAZA CITY // The Hamas premier, Ismail Haniya, left the Gaza Strip for a regional tour yesterday for the first time since Israel and Egypt imposed a siege in 2007, his office said.

Mr Haniya will visit Egypt and Sudan, after which he plans to travel to Qatar, Turkey, Tunisia and Bahrain, sources in his office said.

The primary purpose of the trip was to obtain "help and aid" to rebuild Gaza City.

But Mr Haniya was also likely to address the issue of Palestinian reconciliation, according to the sources.

Mr Haniya entered Egypt through the Rafah crossing, recently opened after remaining largely shut since June 2006.

He has been confined to Gaza in part because of tensions with Egypt.

But the country's new rulers have warmed up to Hamas since the president, Hosni Mubarak, was toppled in February.

Mr Haniya's tour begins three days after Palestinian factions including Hamas met in Cairo to thrash out the implementation of a deal they signed in April.

On Thursday, the Palestinian Authority president, Mahmoud Abbas, and the 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.