Qatar’s Emir Visits Gaza Strip

    Qatari Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani waves to the crowds as he sits next to Gaza's Hamas prime minister Ismail Haniya during a welcome ceremony at the Rafah border crossing with Egypt on October 23, 2012 in the Gaza Strip. Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani arrived in the Gaza Strip in the first visit by a head of state since the Islamist Hamas movement took over in 2007. AFP PHOTO/SAID KHATIB        (Photo credit should read SAID KHATIB/AFP/Getty Images)

    Said Khatib, AFP / Getty Images

    The emir of Qatar became the first head of state to visit the Gaza Strip in 13 years on Tuesday, in a trip called “astounding” by Israel. Sheik Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani crossed into Gaza from Egypt with a large international delegation, and was given the VIP treatment by Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh—and his archrival, President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority, saying he hoped the visit would not undermine efforts to rebuild Palestine. Qatar’s emir has been working to improve the diplomatic standing of his country, and has mediated in the past between Hamas and Abbas's Fatah movement.

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