Former US president Jimmy Carter and delegation expected in Gaza

Other News Materials 16 October 2010 16:42 (UTC +04:00)

A delegation known as The Elders, which includes former US President Jimmy Carter, is expected to enter the blockaded Gaza Strip through Egypt's Rafah border crossing on Saturday as part of a regional tour to highlight the Mideast peace process, DPA reported.

Carter and the delegation, which includes former Irish president Mary Robinson and former UN envoy Lakhdar Brahimi, are scheduled to hold meetings in Gaza with members of the Islamist group Hamas.

The group has been labelled a terrorist organisation by both the United States and the European Union.

"It is important if peace is ever to be achieved in this region that all voices are heard," according to a statement by Robinson on the group's website Saturday.

"Not only is the Gaza blockade contrary to international law, I believe it is immoral, inhumane and completely counterproductive," she added.

The Gaza Strip has been under an Israeli-Egyptian blockade since June 2006, though both countries slightly eased the blockade following an Israeli attack on an aid flotilla trying to reach the Strip that killed nine people in May.

Following their meetings in the Gaza Strip, the delegation is scheduled to meet with members of civil society and politicians in Syria, Jordan, Israel and the occupied Palestinian Territories.

Carter visited the region several times last year, including a visit to Gaza where he met with Hamas officials. He also met with Hamas leaders in Syria the year before.

The Elders is a group of elder statesmen, peace activists, and human rights advocates formed by South Africa's Nelson Mandela in July 2007 to solve global problems and conflicts.