Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas criticized leaders who have made official visits to the Hamas-run Gaza Strip, telling the Organization of Islamic Cooperation on Wednesday in Egypt, that such trips deepened the schism among Palestinians. Hamas has ruled Gaza since 2007, when it seized control from the Western-backed Palestinian Authority led by Abbas' Fatah faction. The U.S. designated terrorist group Hamas is hostile to Israel opposes the Palestinian Authority's strategy of seeking to negotiate a permanent solution to the Middle East conflict.
Abbas drew a distinction between welcome humanitarian aid for Gaza and "political visits that have an official character, as if there is an independent entity in the Gaza Strip". He said new Palestinian elections would be the quickest way to end the division - a split which Palestinians feel has badly set back their quest for statehood.