Abbas may visit Gaza with Turkish PM, official says 25Mar13 March 25, 2013

Ma’an News Agency    -    24 March 2013

113693_345x230GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — President Abbas may accompany Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan on a potential visit to the Gaza Strip in the near future, a Palestinian official said Sunday.

“I believe if Erdogan comes to Gaza, he may accompany president Abu Mazen,” Ahmed Yousef, former senior political adviser to Gaza PM Ismail Haniyeh, told Ma’an.

Hamas said on Friday that Erdogan told its leader, Khalid Mashaal, that Israel had promised to “lift the siege on the Palestinian people”.

Gaza Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh said he expected Erdogan to make a solidarity visit to Gaza “soon”.

A visit to Gaza by the Turkish prime minister would represent a real breakthrough in addressing the Israeli blockade on the Gaza Strip, Yousef said.

Erdogan would likely pledge financial support for projects in Gaza and his visit could encourage other regional Arab leaders to visit.

A visit by Erdogan could also help to push forward reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah, as he would coordinate any visit with the PA, Yousef added.

Gaza-based political analyst Shakir Shabat told Ma’an he agrees that any Gaza visit by Erdogan would likely be coordinated with the PA, and would embody Turkish support for the Palestinian people rather than strengthening Hamas at the expense of Fatah.

The visit will “show others that the Turkish demand to lift the Gaza siege has been met after Israel officially apologized,” Shabat added.

Turkey and Israel reconciled on Friday following a three-year rift, after Israel apologized for killing nine Turkish citizens aboard a Gaza-bound activist ship in 2010.

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