Meshaal urges Egypt to stop building 'wall of death' against Gaza
Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal called on Egypt to stop building an underground wall along its border with Gaza.
Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal called on Egypt on Friday to stop building an underground wall along its border with Gaza, which the ruling party says would put further strain on the isolated enclave.
Meshaal also called for a meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas of the rival Fatah party, to try to achieve reconciliation between the two groups.
Egypt is constructing an underground barrier to stem Palestinian arms smuggling into Gaza and has played down the scope of the work on the 14-km (8-mile)-long frontier.
Hamas calls the project a "wall of death" that could seal an Israeli-led blockade by closing tunnels from the Egyptian Sinai peninsula.
"We call on the Egyptian leadership to stop building the steel wall along its border with the Gaza Strip," Meshaal said at a conference bringing resistance groups together in Beirut.
"A wall (is erected) between enemies and not between brothers," said Meshaal who lives in exile in Damascus.
Israel has long lobbied Egypt to strenght the blockage by destroying tunnels, which supplies Palestinians with munitions as well as with basic goods lacking in Gaza.
Egyptian officials have said steel tubes were being placed at several points along the frontier to form a barrier, but have not elaborated on their purpose.
"Erase all the past"
Israel and Egypt maintain a blockade of the territory.
The blockade has been condemned internationally over hardships caused to Palestinians in the poor coastal enclave and its effect on efforts to rebuild homes and infrastructure since Israel's three-week Gaza incursion a year ago.
Meshaal, who earlier met Lebanese leaders, said his group was in the last stretch towards reconciliation with Fatah and all that was needed was a final review of an Egyptian proposal to promote reconciliation between the two groups.
Egypt has been hosting talks between Hamas and Fatah -- which controls the West Bank -- to try to push the two parties towards a deal.
"From this platform, I erase all the past, and I invite the brother Abu Mazen (Abbas) for a bilateral meeting to start with, then with the factions," Meshaal said at the opening ceremony which Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah also addressed.
"I am confident that when we meet, we will agree, and we will deal with these simple differences. Then we will go to Cairo, with an Arab presence, to bless our unity and our agreement," Meshaal said.
Reuters Last Mod: 15 Ocak 2010, 23:48