A group of Arab MPs have embarked on a tour of the Gaza Strip to show solidarity with its people and help end the rift between rival Palestinian factions.
The delegation from the Arab Parliamentary Union is comprised of 22 deputies from Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Morocco, Algeria, Qatar, Bahrain, Lebanon, Sudan, Kuwait, and Oman.
“We came to represent the Arab parliaments and the Arab nation. We came, 22 deputies who represent the Arab nation from the Atlantic Ocean to the [Persian] Gulf as a united nation,” the group said in a declaration upon arriving via the Egyptian-controlled Rafah crossing on Monday.
The Arab lawmakers highlighted the significance of unity among the Palestinians for achieving the “nation’s aim of establishing an independent Palestinian state.” “We want the Palestinian people to be united, as no party ever defeated its enemy when it was divided,” they urged.
Prominent Omani MP Salem Bin Ali al-Kabi, who is leading the delegation expressed “great optimism about Palestinian reconciliation,” given the increasing hopes that Hamas will sign an Egyptian-brokered reconciliation deal.
The visit comes amid signs of a breakdown in the three-year-old standoff between the Islamic Hamas movement and the rival Fatah party, following a rare visit by senior Fatah leader Nabil Sha’ath who met with Hamas’ Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh and other Gaza-based officials.
On Sunday, representatives from 13 Palestinian factions, including Hamas and Fatah, held talks in Gaza to underline their commitment to end internal strife.
Palestinian civil rights groups hailed the delegation’s visit as a show of “support for Palestinian steadfastness in the face of Israeli intransigence, the tightening of the blockade, the closure of the crossings, and the ban on the entry of construction materials and all requirements for a decent life.”
During the two-day tour, the Arab deputies are scheduled to meet with Palestinian politicians as well as the families of those affected by Israel’s last year’s offensive against Gaza.
The 22-day onslaught left more than 1,400 people, mostly civilians, dead and devastated a large part of the infrastructure of the impoverished area, which has been under Israeli siege since 2007.