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Storm recovery could bring Abbas to Gaza

The recent devastating storm could prompt a visit by Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas to the Gaza Strip and potentially expedite Palestinian reconciliation efforts.
Palestinians man a boat carrying food supplies, to be passed to people whose houses were flooded with rainwater on a stormy day, in the northern Gaza Strip December 14, 2013. Northern Gaza Strip has become a disaster area following an icy storm that led to the evacuation of hundreds of Palestinian families from their flooded houses to UNRWA facilities, Chris Gunness, UNRWA spokesman, said. REUTERS/Mohammed Salem (GAZA - Tags: ENVIRONMENT SOCIETY TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY) - RTX16HYD

The Dec. 16 Facebook message was simple yet powerful: “Imagine if President [Mahmoud] Abbas visited Gaza and took a look at his people there following the winter storm. Imagine how he would be received by Ismail Haniyeh. … People who have been drowning will certainly come out and welcome him,” she concluded.

The entry was by Rawya Shawa, a prominent independent member of the Palestinian Legislative Council. It is unclear if this was an innocent wish or if she was privy to any information about the state of Palestinian reconciliation. The entry coincided with two important phone calls, one between Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh and Abbas. That phone call followed what has been reported as a thank-you call from Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal to the Palestinian president. Press reports have said that Meshaal thanked Abbas for his efforts since the snowstorm to help out Gazans by sending badly needed supplies and intervening with the Israelis to loosen Gaza’s blockade.

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