Former head of the International Atomic Energy Agency Mohamed ElBaradei has expressed support for Palestinian resistance, calling Gaza the world’s largest jail.
In a report published by UPI on Tuesday, ElBaradei described resistance the only path open to the Palestinian people, because the Israeli occupation only understands the language of force.
"The peace process has become a stupid joke which we talk about without achieving any progress," the Egyptian diplomat reportedly said, adding that the Arabs should back their negotiation option with force and deterrence.
He also criticized Cairo’s construction of a steel wall along the border with the Gaza Strip, aimed at disrupting Palestinians’ "survival" tunnel network, as harmful to Egypt’s reputation.
He described Egypt’s construction of the wall as joining Israel in its closure of the strip, which he said "has become the world’s largest prison."
"The logical solution to the problem would be to close the tunnels and open border crossings while creating a free trade zone in Rafah where Palestinians can trade and then return to Gaza."
More than two years of a crippling Israeli blockade has pushed some 1.5 million Gazans on the verge of starvation and has irreparably hurt Gaza’s economy as the siege totally cuts off the territory from the outside world.
As Israel refuses to open Gaza border crossings it has closed since 2007, the Rafah crossing — the only terminal not under Tel Aviv’s control — is sealed off by Egyptian officials.
The 67-year old ElBaradei is largely expected to run in Egypt’s 2011 presidential elections, as opposition parties are seeking to pressure President Hosni Mubarak for democratic reforms.