Sunday, April 12, 2009

"Gaza is Still an Open Air Prison" - Gerry Adams

The Guardian, April 9, 2009 - Gaza is still an open-air prison, Sinn Féin's Gerry Adams said during a visit to the Middle East.

The West Belfast MP called for an end to the Israeli blockade on building materials and urged the state to enter into negotiations with Hamas, which rules Gaza.

Adams held talks in the region with Ismail Haniyeh, the Hamas prime minister, and is due to travel to the West Bank to meet the Palestinian Authority.

"This is a total denial of the rights of the people of Palestine. This is an open-air prison," the Sinn Féin president said. "People can't travel out of here, they can't travel in."....

A number of European politicians and commentators have urged dialogue with Hamas. But Britain and the United States say that cannot happen until the group recognises Israel, renounces violence and accepts interim peace agreements.

Adams said the border crossing from Israel into Gaza "was distinctly like being back in prison ... You had to go through airlocked areas and so on".

"It is the human problem because when you speak to ordinary decent working people on the Israeli side hit by the rocket attacks ... the ordinary people of Israel didn't cause the problem."

The Northern Irish republican leader described a scene of devastation, ruined hospitals, schools and homes, and said he urged peace on the Hamas leadership.

"There should be a complete cessation of hostilities by all sides and I stressed our opinion that dialogue is central to what's required and that is the only way forward," he added.

"The refusal to recognise the outcome of the ballot box in the Palestinian territories is also bizarre, that they challenge people to go into elections and then when they go into elections they don't recognise it."

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