Sunday, 24 March 2013

Abbas may visit Gaza with Turkish PM, official says

GAZA 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. more

Israel says Turkey deal will not end Gaza blockade

JERUSALEM (Reuters) -- Israel did not commit to ending its Gaza blockade as part of reconciliation with Turkey and could clamp down even harder on the Palestinian enclave if security is threatened, a senior Israeli official said on Sunday.

After Friday's US-brokered fence-mending announcement, Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan said Israel had met his demands to apologize for killing nine Turks aboard a Gaza-bound activist ship in 2010, pay compensation and ease the blockade.

But during the almost three-year rift between the ex-allies, Erdogan had routinely insisted that Israel end the blockade.

The rapprochement deal noted Israel's relaxing of curbs on Gaza's civilian imports in that period and pledged "to continue to work to improve" Palestinians' humanitarian situation. more