Turkish Prime Minister, Receb Tayyip Erdogan, stated that he intends to visit the Gaza Strip by the end of this coming May following his trip to the United States.
Erdogan did not set an exact date for the visit, but Turkish sources said that his visit would be conducted directly after he concludes his visit to the Unites States to meet President Barack Obama on May 16.The Turkish daily Hürriyet reported that Erdogan was planning to visit Gaza this month, but rescheduled his visit following a request in this regard from the United States.
It added that the White House asked Erdogan to delay the visit so that the current “breakthrough” in relations between Ankara and Tel Aviv does not lose its momentum.
Relations between the two countries have deteriorated after the Israeli army boarded the MV Marara Turkish solidarity ship that was heading to Gaza as part of the Freedom Flotilla that aimed at challenging the illegal Israeli siege on Gaza. The Israeli attack, carried out in 2010, led to the death if nine Turkish activists, including a Turkish-American.
Last week, U.S. Secretary of State, John Kerry, held a meeting with Erdogan in Istanbul, the second meeting in the month, but it remained unclear whether they discussed Erdogan’s planned visit to Gaza.
The visit followed last month’s mediation conducted by U.S. President, Barack Obamas, between Tel Aviv and Ankara in an attempt to mend the relations between the two countries.
It is worth mentioning that Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, recently apologized to his Turkish counterpart, over the phone, and vowed to compensate the families of the victims, while analysts believe that Turkey might have dropped its demand that Israel should end the siege on Gaza before the two countries can restore their relations.
Turkey accepted the apology and Erdogan’s office issued a statement saying that “Ankara values its relations with Israel.”