Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan told reporters on Friday that he is planning to visit the Gaza Strip in the near future.
During a flight back to Ankara from Berlin, the Turkish Prime Minister told reporters on the plane that talks with Hamas leadership to determine a date for a visit are ongoing. Erdogan pointed out that in the past, he approached Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, in an attempt to convince him to join a visit to Gaza.
“He was warm to the suggestion,” Erdogan said.
Erdogan expressed interest in visiting Gaza in September 2011, in conjunction with a visit to Egypt. The Egyptian Supreme Military Council, however, informed him that he would not be allowed to enter the Gaza Strip from Egyptian territory. Earlier this month, the Emir of Qatar visited the Gaza Strip, becoming the first head of state to do so since Hamas assumed control of the coastal enclave in June 2007.
On the plane, Erdogan leveled criticism at Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, accusing him of sending “very strange” diplomats, in an attempt to better relations between the two states.
He did not explain what he meant, however in an interview with Turkish television two months ago, Erdogan revealed that Jewish-American businessman Ron Lauder, considered an associate of Netanyahu, relayed him a message from Israel.
According to Erdogan, during his visit to Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel asked him, to take the necessary steps to bring an end to the poor relations between Turkey and Israel.
Erdogan told Merkel that Turkey is still demanding an apology from Israel, over the deaths of Turkish activists on board a ship en route to Gaza in May 2010, reparations for the activists' families, and an end to the blockade of the Gaza strip.
The Turkish Prime Minister said he made it clear to Merkel that “it is impossible that our relations will be mended unless these demands are realized.”
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