Hamas grants Gaza invitation to Turkish prime minister


?pek Yezdani
ISTANBUL- Hürriyet Daily News Following a number of erstwhile attempts, Prime Minister Erdo?an receives another invitation from the besieged Gaza Strip’s rulers, Hamas, to visit the territory
‘I think Turkish people can find a way to go to Gaza if they want to,’ says Hamas’ Deputy PM Mohammed Awad. DAILY NEWS photo, Emrah GÜREL
‘I think Turkish people can find a way to go to Gaza if they want to,’ says Hamas’ Deputy PM Mohammed Awad. DAILY NEWS photo, Emrah GÜREL

Hamas’ deputy prime minister has expressed expectations that Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdo?an will soon visit the blockaded Gaza Strip following previously abandoned attempts to travel to the Palestinian territory.
“The media has twice announced that Erdo?an was going to visit Gaza, but then we didn’t see anything on the ground. Turkey is a great country, and I think Turkish people can find a way to go to Gaza if they want to,” Deputy Prime Minister Mohammed Awad told the Hürriyet Daily News in an interview yesterday. “We would like Prime Minister Erdo?an not only to visit Gaza, but also to discuss every kind of political and humanitarian issue with us. It would be very good to discuss the matters with Mr. Erdo?an face to face,” Awad said.
Every part of Gaza is under humanitarian, social, financial and political siege, Awad said, adding that they also needed to discuss how to end the siege with Erdo?an.
“Erdo?an mentioned many times that this siege has to be ended. At least we can discuss this process with him from our point of view. Our people are in a big prison. We need all the people to understand our situation and discuss the matter of how to finish the siege. Turkey has a chance to [publicize] the issue everywhere in the world. We would like Turkey to raise our problems in the world,” the deputy prime minister said.
Touching on difficulties with the Fatah movement, which controls the West Bank, Awad said there had been no progression in plans for reconciliation. Hamas does not support Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas’ bid to have the U.N. recognize Palestinian statehood.

“We need a state of Palestine, but we don’t need this Palestine against the right of return of our people. So we have to discuss this matter in terms of how much this step can affect the right of return of Palestinians to their lands. Otherwise we won’t be able to face our people later on when we say that the right of return has been finished with this step,” Awad said.

Erdo?an has expressed his intention to visit Gaza more than once in the past. “If conditions allow, I’m thinking of visiting Gaza,” Erdo?an said in July and added last month that he intended to cross into the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip through Egypt’s Rafah border gate in reaction to Israel during his official visit to Egypt on Sept. 12-13. Erdo?an was unable to travel to Gaza last month.

Israel reacts to Erdo?an’s possible visit to Gaza

Israel also reacted to Erdo?an’s planned visit to Gaza, saying such a move would harm Turkey’s relations with the United States and challenge the legitimacy of Abbas’ claim to represent all of Palestine. The Turkish prime minister’s determination to visit Gaza came as relations between Turkey and Israel sharply deteriorated following Tel Aviv’s continued refusal to apologize after Israeli commandos killed nine Turkish activists last year aboard an aid ship that was attempting to break the blockade against the Gaza Strip. If the trip does occur, it is likely to exacerbate tensions between Turkey and Israel, which considers Hamas a terrorist group. Turkey has refused to declare Hamas a terrorist group because it was democratically elected.

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