Palestine to ‘welcome’ Turkish PM Erdoğan to Gaza: Officials

Palestine to ‘welcome’ Turkish PM Erdoğan to Gaza: Officials

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Palestine to ‘welcome’ Turkish PM Erdoğan to Gaza: Officials

Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan gestures as he addresses his lawmakers and supporters at the parliament in Ankara, Turkey, Tuesday, March 26, 2013. AP Photo

Ankara has received no complaints relating to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s plans to visit Gaza, Turkish officials have said, despite suggestions to the contrary by a leading Israeli daily, while the top Palestinian diplomat in the Turkish capital also denied any objections, saying they welcomed the visit.

“No such information has so far reached us,” Turkish diplomatic sources told the Hürriyet Daily News yesterday, referring to The Jerusalem Post report on March 27 that quoted an anonymous Palestine Authority (PA) official as saying that “their leadership has informed the Turkish government that they are opposed to such a visit because it would deepen the division among the Palestinians.”

“On the contrary, when [Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu] and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas met at the Doha Summit of the Arab League, the latter in particular expressed his pleasure at Turkey’s efforts for the reconciliation of Palestinian groups,” the same diplomatic sources said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Palestinian Ambassador to Turkey Nabil Maarouf stressed that they expected the visit – which they welcomed – to take place after a planned “mini-summit” on the Palestinian reconciliation to be hosted by Qatar.

“First of all, Mr. Erdoğan said he will visit Palestine, not only Gaza. We are expecting this visit to take place, but after the ‘mini-summit,’” Maarouf told the Daily News, noting that he expected Turkey to participate in this summit, which would be held at the level of heads of states. Turkish officials were not yet available to confirm whether Turkey officially received an invitation for the summit. In a separate written statement, the Palestinian Embassy in Ankara said it confirmed that “the Palestinian people welcome this visit,” and emphasized that, “every Palestinian city will be honored to receive him.”

‘Does not represent views of Palestinians’

“The Embassy of the State of Palestine considers that remarks attributed to Prime Minister Erdoğan were consistent with the Turkish official and popular position in support of the Palestinian cause, and all the Palestinians are keen to pay back the favor to Turkey and to the Turkish people for the continuous support to Palestine, the Palestinians and their just cause,” the statement said.

Gaza Mayor Mayor Rafiq Tawfiq al-Makki also said the Israeli report is “probably distorted, and does not represent the views of the Palestinian people.” Dismissing any opposition against Erdoğan’s planned Gazze visit, al-Makki said: “Palestine does not only belong to Palestinians, but to all of the Muslim world. These statements do not reflect the joy of the people [of Erdoğan’s visit]. I believe that the prime minister’s visit will be met with joy in all of Palestine. I believe these statements are distorted, and do not represent the people.”

In a related development, Turkish diplomatic sources said that the amount of compensation to be paid to families of victims of the Israeli raid on the Mavi Marmara had so far not caused any issues during negotiations between Israeli and Turkish officials in the process of normalization of ties between the two sides. 

Dilara Sarı from Daily News Istanbul Bureau contributed this report.