Turkish PM may visit Gaza Strip
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan told reporters today that he is considering a visit to the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip, a move that would likely rankle the Israeli government, which considers Hamas a terrorist organization. "If the conditions allow, I’m thinking of visiting Gaza. The foreign ministry will be working on it. I wish to ...
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan told reporters today that he is considering a visit to the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip, a move that would likely rankle the Israeli government, which considers Hamas a terrorist organization. "If the conditions allow, I’m thinking of visiting Gaza. The foreign ministry will be working on it. I wish to make such a visit, depending on the outcome," he said.
The announcement comes at a sensitive juncture in Turkish-Israeli diplomacy: The two countries are just now beginning to mend ties after Israeli commandos killed 9 Turkish activists aboard the Freedom Flotilla last year. The flotilla, which was carrying humanitarian aid and construction supplies, was attempting to contravene Israel’s controversial blockade of the Gaza Strip.
After the incident, Erdogan called Israel’s actions "absolutely illegal" and lambasted the Israeli government for "spilling the blood of innocent humans" and embracing "violence, and despotism."
The Turkish prime minister’s Gaza announcement comes only a day after Ozdem Sanberk, Turkey’s representative on the United Nations committee of inquiry into the flotilla raid, expressed willingness to end animosity between the two countries, but demanded that Israel apologize for the death of Turkish citizens.
Israel’s official line has been that its soldiers acted in self defense after encountering armed resistance from activists carrying clubs and knives.
Since the flotilla incident, Erdogan has polished his image as champion of the Palestinian cause, repeatedly lashing out against Israel in statements to the press and defending Hamas as "resistance fighters who are struggling to defend their land." Last month, he called on Israel "to lift as soon as possible the inhumane and unlawful blockade" of Gaza, according to the AFP.
The trip to Gaza has yet to be scheduled, but would likely be tacked onto the end of a trip to Egypt, which recently opened the Rafah border with Gaza. It would make Erdogan the first world leader to visit Gaza in an official capacity since Hamas swept into power in 2007.
More from Foreign Policy
At Long Last, the Foreign Service Gets the Netflix Treatment
Keri Russell gets Drexel furniture but no Senate confirmation hearing.
How Macron Is Blocking EU Strategy on Russia and China
As a strategic consensus emerges in Europe, France is in the way.
What the Bush-Obama China Memos Reveal
Newly declassified documents contain important lessons for U.S. China policy.
Russia’s Boom Business Goes Bust
Moscow’s arms exports have fallen to levels not seen since the Soviet Union’s collapse.