Gaza Strip is under Palestinian control, but Israel restricts visitors entry to the strip. The latest high-ranking visitor to the region to be denied entry is Sinn Feinn President Gerry Adams. His planned visit to Gaza was cut short by Israel’s decision to ban him from visiting the area. Israel did not provide an explanation for the measure.
The Irish leader expressed disappointment at Israel’s decision to ban him from visiting the region. He said that stopping him from visiting people who had suffered from Israeli attacks in the last 10 years was uncalled for. He said they needed help to rebuild their economy. He said Israel’s action was counterproductive to the peace effort.
He said he would continue to speak about the need for Palestinian statehood. He challenged the international community to play its role in bringing about Palestinian statehood in accordance to international law. He said that Palestinian statehood was a right, and not an item for negotiation. Adams had intended to meet what Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, and also visit the grave of former PLO leader Yasser Arafat.
The only gateway to Gaza is either through Rafah terminal in the southern part of Egypt or through Erez Crossing in Israel. The Rafah crossing in Egypt has remained closed most of the time following deadly clashes in October that killed 31 people. Egyptian authorities blamed the incident on militants that came to Sinai from Gaza.
According to a report in The Irish Times, an Israeli official said that the country did not restrict aid workers and foreign dignitaries from entering Gaza Strip that is under Palestinian control, but it had the right to restrict entry to politicians who spoke negatively about Israel. He said Adams did not plan to meet with any Israel government officials, but intended to go to Gaza to stir up emotions while Israel was trying to bring calm to the region. He said that Israel did not consider Gerry Adams to be a friend.
Earlier in the week, Adams met with Israel’s leader of the opposition Labor Party Yitzhak Herzhog. He also held a meeting with Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, and other Palestinian leaders in Ramallah who briefed hm on the challenges that the residents of Gaza were facing.
Adams played a key role in bringing the conflict between Great Britain and Northern Ireland to an end. The 1994 ceasefire led to talks that brought about the Belfast Agreement in 2005.
An article in The Jerusalem Post published in November indicated that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said he had evidence that Israel and Hamas had held meeting to discuss about land. He said that he was not willing to give up any piece of land that contradicted the established boundaries Palestinians had asked for in previous peace meetings.
Even with Gaza Strip under Palestinian control but with Israel restricting entry to the region, Riad Malki, the Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister, told Ma’an news agency that the Palestinian Authority will not push for statehood at the Security Council meeting this year since it was unlikely that the motion would get support from at least nine members of the Security Council. He added that there was pressure from the United States to drop the bid. This means that The Palestinian Authority can claim to have Gaza under its control, but Israel’s ability to restrict entry to the region.
By Benedicto Ateku