Haniya to visit Turkey on his first official trip as PM
GAZA CITY / ANKARAHamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniya was expected to begin a tour yesterday that will include Turkey, his office said, his first exit from Gaza since Israel and Egypt imposed a siege in 2007.
Sources in his office told Agence France-Presse that Haniya would visit Egypt and Sudan, after which he plans to go to Qatar, Turkey, Tunisia and Bahrain. The primary purpose of the trip was to obtain “help and aid” to rebuild Gaza City, but Haniya was also likely address the issue of Palestinian reconciliation in talks, they said. Haniya would enter Egypt through the Rafah crossing, recently opened after remaining largely shut since June 2006 when Israel imposed a blockade after militants snatched Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, who was released in October as part of a prisoner swap. In May, Egypt officially reopened its Rafah border crossing with Gaza more that three months after Egyptian former president Hosni Mubarak resigned, allowing people to cross freely for the first time in four years. Touching on a compromise reached between Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said Turkey made very active contributions to the process. Now that the Palestinians have united under the umbrella of the Palestine Liberation Organization, Israel’s arguments were no longer valid, Davutoğlu said Dec. 24.