The UK’s general consul in Jerusalem, Richard Makepeace, met in Gaza Thursday with the Palestinian Prime Minister, Ismail Haniya over the crisis of BBC reporter Alan Jhonston, who still remains under the captivity of an unknown group in Gaza.
The meeting, which is the first of its type since Haniya of Hamas took office after last January’s parliamentary elections. PM Haniya said he was pleased with the meeting and emphasized the fact that the abduction of Jhonston never reflects the real image of the Palestinian people, pledging to employ all means at his disposal to secure the release of the veteran BBC reporter.
Makepeace stressed that his meeting with PM Haniya was of a humanitarian nature, praising the Palestinian Authority’s efforts to free Jhonston. The UK diplomat also asserted that the meeting did not signal a change in his country’s policy towards Hamas.
A part of the Quartet, which continues to economically boycott the Palestinian government, Britain has already announced that it would only deal with what it called ‘moderate Palestinian ministers’ who accept the Quartet’s demands.
The international Quartet (United States, United Nations, European Union, Russia), reiterated demands that any Palestinian government should recognize Israel, renounce violence and accept past signed agreements before it wins international recognition.
BBC reporter, Alan Jhonston, was kidnapped by masked gunmen in Gaza on March 12th, the longest captivity a foreign journalist has endured in Gaza over the past three years. The Gaza-based Palestinian Center for Human Rights has documented the cases of 55 foreign workers, who have been abducted and released unharmed in Gaza since 2004. Reasons behind these abductions have not been ‘terror-driven’.