Irish politician Gerry Adams, head of the leftist Sinn Fein party, met with Ismail Haniyeh in Gaza on Wednesday night. Adams was allowed by Defense Minister Ehud Barak to enter Gaza earlier in the day.
News sources in Britain and Gaza quoted Adams as terming Gaza “an open-air prison,” and telling Haniyeh, “We want to help. We support the Palestinian people.”
"Following my meeting with Mr. Haniyeh, I believe that progress is possible,” Adams added. He told the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), “Mr. Haniyeh told me that Hamas wants a peace agreement.”
Adams told journalists that he had told Haniyeh that both Israel and Hamas must lay down their weapons. “There should be a complete cessation of all hostilities and armed actions by both sides,” he declared.
Adams previously played a role in leading the Irish Republican Army (IRA), and his Sinn Fein party was described as the IRA's “political wing.” The IRA is considered a terrorist group, and in its prime was linked to Middle East terrorist groups such as Fatah and Hizbullah.
The Foreign Ministry had objected to Adams's plans to visit Gaza, expressing concern that he planned to meet with Hamas, thus granting the terrorist group legitimacy. Many foreign leaders have agreed not to meet with Hamas until the group agrees to recognize Israel and renounce terrorism.
Adams reportedly succeeded in entering Gaza following intervention from Quartet envoy Tony Blair. According to the Jerusalem Post, Blair personally requested that Defense Minister Ehud Barak allow Adams to enter Gaza, arguing that Adams has experience in mediating conflicts, and could help Israel by passing messages between Israel and Hamas.
Adams is still in the area, and plans to meet with leaders in the Fatah-led PA in Ramallah on Friday. Israeli politicians have refused to meet with Adams due to his willingness to talk with Hamas terrorists.