Gerry Adams, a key player in Northern Ireland's peace process, met with Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh late Wednesday and planned more talks with officials of the Islamic group Thursday.
Adams told The Associated Press in an interview Wednesday he said he met Obama's special Mideast envoy George Mitchell in Washington last month and told him of his plan to visit Gaza. He said he plans to "brief the Irish government, friends in the US, others I deal with internationally, and that would include Sen. Mitchell."
Sinn Fein is a political party linked to the Irish Republican Army - a group that, like Hamas, was labeled terrorist because of violent tactics used to battle Britain. But unlike Hamas, Sinn Fein engaged in negotiations that transformed it into a legitimate political player, recognized by Britain and local foes.
Adams called on all sides to the conflict to renounce violence and called for dialogue between all parties.
A willingness to talk and compromise produced success in the case of Northern Ireland. Following the IRA's cease-fire in 1997, Sinn Fein joined in negotiations with other parties and the British and Irish governments, and is now the second-largest political party in Northern Ireland.
Adams also visited Sderot - a frequent target of Hamas rockets - before traveling to Gaza and said he found it "deeply saddening" to realize "the depth of the human tragedy" on both sides.
He also said Gaza's border crossings - kept tightly closed by Israel and Egypt since the Hamas takeover - should be opened.
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YNB Response: Having an X terrorist organization involved in the Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations is about the best tactic I've heard yet. Sinn Fein is now a respected political organization in Northern Ireland which will hopefully hold clout with Hamas, as well as Israel, in furthering the peace process.
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