Emir of Qatar to visit Gaza

By Sahar Zivan, October 22, 2012
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The Emir of Qatar (Photo: Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

The Emir of Qatar (Photo: Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

The Emir of Qatar is set to become the first head of state to visit the Gaza Strip since the Hamas takeover tomorrow, when he arrives to inaugurate reconstruction projects in the area. The projects, reported to be worth more than $250 million, aim to help reconstruction efforts in Gaza.

The visit has been welcomed by Hamas, the ruling party in Gaza, whose Prime Minister, Ismael Haniyeh, issued a statement calling on the people of Gaza “to express their good hospitality in welcome the great visitor of Gaza”.

Not everyone approves of the visit. While some residents have been hanging Qatari flags in the streets, others have been putting up pictures portraying the pro-Western Emir cosying up to his Israeli counterpart, President Shimon Peres.

The move will also concern the Fatah movement, Hamas’s main rivals. According to the Palestinian Wafa news agency, the Emir recently called PA leader Mahmoud Abbas to tell him “of his desire to visit Gaza Strip to inaugurate some projects to reconstruct the strip.” However, Mr Abbas was not invited to join the Emir on his visit and the two will not be meeting.

Hamas took over the Gaza Strip in a bloody coup in 2007, a year after Fatah won elections in the West Bank and Gaza. Since then the two parties have failed in reconciliation efforts, and they remain divided.

Last updated: 5:40pm, October 22 2012