PM Erdo?an’s plan to visit Gaza faces hurdles

SEV?L KÜÇÜKKO?UM ANKARA
 Hürriyet Daily News Ankara is pushing to arrange a trip to the Gaza Strip for PM Erdo?an despite the security concerns and Egypt’s dilemma of violating agreements with Israel
This file photo shows Nabil Shaath (L), special envoy of Palestinian President Abbas, and Turkish FM Ahmet Davuto?lu meeting in Ankara on Monday.
This file photo shows Nabil Shaath (L), special envoy of Palestinian President Abbas, and Turkish FM Ahmet Davuto?lu meeting in Ankara on Monday.

Ankara is considering a possible visit by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdo?an to the Gaza Strip as part of his trip to Egypt next week, but the idea is facing tall political and security hurdles.
Erdo?an is scheduled to pay an official visit to Egypt on Sept. 12-13, an official from the Prime Ministry told the Hürriyet Daily News on Monday, while remaining uncertain about the date Erdo?an would return to Turkey.
“It is still unclear if the prime minister will cross over to the Gaza Strip,” the official said.
The Daily News has learned that a final decision was likely on Tuesday, following talks between Turkish officials and a senior Palestinian envoy in Ankara on Monday.
The prime minister could add “some other countries” to his program, the official noted without giving names. A visit to Libya, as part of Erdo?an’s trip, was among the alternatives, another official told the Daily News.
Ankara is facing difficulties in making arrangements for Erdo?an’s visit to Egypt to include a possible additional leg to Gaza, which has been under an Israeli blockade for years.

Erdo?an’s visit to Gaza is unlikely due to two concerns, another diplomatic source told the Daily News.

“Erdo?an’s entry to Gaza through the Rafah border crossing would put Egypt in a delicate position, since that would mean violating existing agreements between Israel and Egypt,” the source said. Another pitfall, the source added, is ensuring the prime minister’s security in Gaza, which is controlled by Hamas.

Asked about the issue, the Egyptian Embassy in Ankara said the ambassador would brief the media on Tuesday.

Israel warned on Monday that a visit by Erdo?an to Gaza would be a diplomatic mistake. The Jerusalem Post newspaper quoted Israeli officials as saying that such a visit would affect Turkey’s relations with the U.S.

The move would also weaken Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, presumably because a trip to Hamas-controlled Gaza would challenge him as the legitimate representative of the Palestinians, the paper said.

Meanwhile, Nabil Shaath, special envoy of Palestinian President Abbas, held talks with Foreign Minister Ahmet Davuto?lu in Ankara on Monday. The two discussed Turkey’s intention to seek an advisory opinion from the International Court of Justice on Israel’s blockade of Gaza, a diplomat told the Daily News, adding that another major issue was a planned Palestinian bid to seek recognition at the United Nations.


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