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Julie Webb-Pullman meets Hamas Leaders In Gaza

Julie Webb-Pullman meets Hamas President And Foreign Minister In Gaza


By Julie Webb-Pullman


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President Ismail Haniya signs autographs as he talks with Julie Webb-Pullman and Pippa Bartolotti

(23 Oct 2010 - Gaza City) - Yesterday afternoon, at a lunch reception hosted by Hamas, I and British woman Pippa Bartolotti found ourselves invited to have a sit-down meeting with Gaza President Ismail Haniya and Foreign Minister Mahmoud Zahar!

Shortly before we had complained to women organisers of the event that only men had been allowed into the line to greet the Gazan dignitaries, pointing out that we had both also raised funds, driven the vehicles, and participated equally in the convoy bringing the aid to the stricken Gazan people.

Within minutes, Foreign Minister Mahmoud Zahar came over to us, personally welcomed us to Gaza and expressed his thanks for all we have done. After discussing the situation and participation of women in Gazan life and politics, and assuring us that there was no intention to exclude women from the gretting process, Mr Zahar asked if we would like to meet with the President. Women began lining up to greet him, and Mr Zahar suggested to me that we sit down somewhere a bit quieter to talk.

The President then joined us at the table, and we spent the next 15 minutes discussing the situation in Gaza, the importance of solidarity such as the Viva Palestina convoys, and informing them about New Zealand and British solidarity efforts in support of the Palestinian cause. One of the women from the Malaysian delegation joined us, and discussed her country's efforts.

The President and Foreign Minister were almost immediately mobbed by people seeking autographs, and they demonstrated incredible patience and goodwill, signing the hundreds of caps, scarves and papers thrust at them as they conversed with the women.


My scarf, signed by Ismail Haniya and Mahmoud Zahar


Soon to be auctioned in NZ


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to raise funds for Gaza!

Mr Zahar said that as the delegation was so big it was very difficult to ensure everyone got a piece of the action, but he would endeavour to organise a meeting for the women members of the convoy, to discuss the situation of women and children in Gaza in particular.

The convoy women are now excitedly awaiting the opportunity to find out more about Palestinian women's participation in the process of building - and rebuilding - a fair, free and open Gaza.

Viva Palestina! Viva Ismail and Mahmoud! Viva women!!!

*************

Julie Webb-Pullman (click to view previous articles) is a New Zealand based freelance writer who has reported for Scoop since 2003. She was selected to be part of the Kiwi contingent on the Viva Palestina Convoy - a.k.a. Kia Ora Gaza. Send Feedback to julie@scoop.co.nz

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