Abbas wants to greet Turkish PM in Gaza

Abbas wants to greet Turkish PM in Gaza

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Abbas wants to greet Turkish PM in Gaza

Turkish PM Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (R) shakes hands with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Abbas will visit Istanbul on April 20 where he will hold talks with United States Secretary of State John Kerry as well as with Turkish leaders and discuss Erdoğan’s plans to travel Gaza in May.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will visit Istanbul on April 20 and will hold talks with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry as well as with Turkish leaders.

The aim of the visit is not to dissuade Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan from his plans to travel Gaza, Palestinian officials told the Hürriyet Daily News yesterday, but adding that the issue would certainly be discussed during the Istanbul talks.

What the Palestinian Authority expects from Turkey, as an official stance, is to conduct Erdoğan’s visit to Gaza “through legitimate paths.” Abbas is ready to receive Erdoğan in Gaza, as the head of state of Palestine, and to travel Ramallah together by helicopter and hold official bilateral meetings there. The Turkish prime minister will therefore be the first head of state to visit Gaza, accompanied by Abbas.

The Palestinian president is also keen to show himself in the Hamas-ruled Gaza, which he has long been unable to do because of the dispute between Hamas and Fatah. The official also claimed that if Erdoğan was not received by the official head of state of Palestine in the Gaza Strip it could deepen the division between Hamas and Fatah.

However, such a visit to Gaza will be more beneficial if it comes after progress in the reconciliation process between Hamas and Fatah, which is expected to occur at a mini-summit in Doha in the near future.

Coordinate with legitimate leader: US

“A visit to Gaza in that way [Erdoğan together with Abbas] would give a boost to reconciliation efforts,” the Palestinian official said.

Erdoğan, who has for years spoken of his desire to visit the Palestinian enclave, recently said that he would visit the Gaza Strip at the end of May, after an official trip to the U.S. in the middle of the month.

Meanwhile, the U.S. has also said that Erdoğan’s trip to Gaza “should be coordinated through the Palestinian Authority and its legitimate leadership.”

“Our position is that engagement with Hamas is counterproductive, and we don’t think it should continue. But in terms of this, they should coordinate with the Palestinian Authority,” Patrick Ventrell, deputy spokesperson of the U.S. State Department said at daily press briefing on April 15.