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Abbas office criticizes Malaysia premier visit to Gaza

Jan. 22, 2013 5:30 P.M. (Updated: Jan. 23, 2013 6:25 P.M.)
RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- The office of President Mahmoud Abbas on Tuesday criticized a visit by Malaysian premier Muhammad Najib Abdul Razak to the Gaza Strip, Palestinian Authority media reported.

Abbas' office said in a statement that the Malaysian prime minister's visit to the Hamas-run enclave harmed the legitimate representative of the Palestinian people and enhanced division, Wafa reported.

"This visit also serves plans to keep Jerusalem segregated from the state of Palestine which the whole world recognized on Nov. 29, 2012," the president's office said.

The Malaysian premier telephoned Abbas and said he would ship humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, and would meet the president in Cairo, the statement added.

Abdul Razak arrived Tuesday in Gaza via the Rafah crossing, accompanied by his wife, and was welcomed by a Hamas delegation led by Gaza premier Ismail Haniyeh.

The Malaysian premier held a brief press conference, praising the Palestinian people for enduring Israel's oppression and urging Palestinian factions to unite.

"We believe in the struggle of the Palestinian people. They have been suppressed and oppressed for so long," Najib told reporters as he was greeted by officials from Gaza's Hamas government.

"We may be far from you in distance, but we are one nation and believe in the struggle of the Palestinian people," he added.

Haniyeh thanked the government and people of Malaysia for their support for the Palestinian people.

Abdul Razak visited a Gaza university and government offices, as well as the family of top Hamas military chief Ahmed al-Jaabari, whose assassination by Israel in November started an eight-day war in which more than 160 Palestinians and six Israelis died.

He was expected to open several projects in Gaza, and will lay a foundation stone for the Gaza government's cabinet building, which was destroyed during Israel's November assault.

In October last year, the emir of Qatar made a historic visit to the Gaza Strip, the first head of state to enter Gaza since 1999.

Gaza’s Hamas rulers said the visit by Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani had broken the Israeli siege, and Palestinians lined the street to welcome the emir.

Reuters contributed to this report.
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