Qatar ruler urged to press Hamas for reconciliation



Ramallah: The Palestinian leadership Monday welcomed the upcoming visit of Qatar's Emir, Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani to the Gaza Strip, urging him to push its Hamas rulers to national Palestinian reconciliation.

Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said that the leadership "highly praises" the visit, but considering it "a humanitarian step" that has no political impact, reported Xinhua.

The Emir is likely to visit Gaza Tuesday to inaugurate a massive, Qatari-funded reconstruction project. He will be the first head of a state to visit Gaza and meet officials from Hamas, which wrested control of Gaza from forces loyal to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in 2007.

Erekat hopes that the Qatari leader will press Hamas to respect the reconciliation agreement which was signed between Hamas and Abbas's Fatah party in Doha in February.

The agreement envisaged a transitional unity government headed by Abbas to prepare and conduct parliamentary and presidential elections in a year. Abbas refused to go ahead with the deal, citing Hamas's refusal to allow Central Elections Commission (CEC) from working in Gaza.

IANS