JERUSALEM (JTA) — Northern Irish Republican leader Gerry Adams met with Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh in Gaza.
Israel’s Foreign Ministry had recommended that Adams, president of the Sinn Fein party, not be permitted to enter Gaza since he planned to meet with Hamas. Adams was permitted to enter Gaza on Wednesday after Quartet Mideast envoy Tony Blair intervened, the Jerusalem Post reported.
Blair reportedly told Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak that Adams had experience as a mediator, and could pass messages and act as a go-between for Israel and Hamas.
The meeting Thursday of Adams and Haniyeh was not announced beforehand. Adams was quoted by the British Guardian newspaper after the meeting as saying, "This is a total denial of the rights of the people of Palestine. This is an open-air prison. People can’t travel out of here, they can’t travel in."
Adams met with Palestinian social activists, businesspeople, and Hamas and Fatah officials, according to the Jerusalem Post.
Adams also visited Sderot before crossing into Gaza. Israeli officials refused to meet with Adams since he met with Hamas. Adams met Friday with Fatah officials in Ramallah.