UN envoy meets with top Hamas leader in Gaza

UN envoy meets with top Hamas leader in Gaza

Robert Serry urges Abbas-led unity government to take responsibility for Palestinian enclave, including crossings with Israel

Hamas says a senior UN envoy held a rare meeting with the No. 2 in the Islamist group to find ways to speed up Gaza reconstruction after the summer war between Israel and Hamas.

The group says Robert Serry, UN coordinator for the Middle East peace process, held talks with Moussa Abu Marzouk of Hamas at the UN headquarters in Gaza City on Thursday. Hamas is shunned by the West as a terror group.

UN officials would only say that Serry meets with Hamas officials when needed.

The UN is leading rebuilding efforts in Gaza, where the war damaged or destroyed thousands of homes.

During the meeting, Serry told Hamas officials that some 20,000 homeowners would be able to obtain construction materials to repair their homes damaged during the summer war.

The UN envoy also said that the fragile ceasefire between Israel and Hamas and the lack of an empowered Palestinian unity government have worsened the situation in Gaza.

According to a statement, Serry urged the Abbas-led Palestinian unity government to “take its rightful responsibilities in Gaza including manning the crossings.”

In September, the UN announced that it had brokered an Israel-PA deal on imports of construction materials into the Gaza Strip to ensure they would not be diverted to Hamas militants.

Hamas seized Gaza in 2007 and remains in power there despite a unity agreement with the Western-backed Palestinian Authority.

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