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Hamas leader refuses to meet Norway's Middle East peace envoy

Hamas's leader in the Gaza Strip Yahya Al-Sinwar meets with leaders of Palestinian factions, in Gaza city on 18 October 2017 [Atia Darwish/Apaimages]
Hamas's leader in the Gaza Strip Yahya Al-Sinwar in Gaza city on 18 October 2017 [Atia Darwish/Apaimages]

The leader of Hamas in the Gaza Strip, Yahya Al-Sinwar, has refused to meet with Norway's special envoy for the Middle East peace process Tor Wennesland, Anadolu Agency reported yesterday, quoting a well-informed senior political source.

The source, who preferred anonymity, said that Wennesland had asked to meet with Sinwar during his recent visit to the occupied Palestinian territories.

On Tuesday, Wennesland met with the Palestinian Prime Minister, Rami Al-Hamdallah, at his office in the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah, with the presence of the Norwegian representative to Palestine, Hilde Haraldstad.

Sinwar's office has refrained from commenting on the source's statements.

In recent years, Sinwar and Wennesland met more than once.

Read: Plan B for Palestine may exist, but the UN's role is to eliminate its possibilities

Mousa Abu Marzouq – a senior member of Hamas' political bureau – recently said that Norway was exerting efforts to calm down the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, adding that the Islamist movement had a "strong" relationship with the Norwegian government.

Norway heads the group of European countries in support of the Palestinian issue.

Gaza has been witnessing tough humanitarian crisis since 30 March 2018 when the enclave's inhabitants rallied for what they called the Great March of Return. The march aims at drawing attention to Palestinians' right of return to the homes from which they were forcibly displaced in the Nakba of 1948. It has also aimed to break the 12-year-long Israel-Egyptian siege of the Gaza Strip, which has seen the enclave blockaded by land, air and sea.

Since the rallies began, more than 230 Palestinian demonstrators have been killed by Israeli army gunfire.

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