A senior Israeli official on Sunday warned that it would be a diplomatic mistake for Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to visit the Gaza Strip as reports in the Turkish and Arab media suggested he was considering doing.
The Qatar News Agency (QNA) reported on Sunday that Erdogan will pay a two-day visit to Egypt beginning September 12 and may subsequently cross the border into the Gaza Strip.
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Channel Two quoted the Israeli official as saying Erdogan would damage Turkey's relations with the United States by visiting Gaza. He added that the move would also weaken Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, presumably because a trip to Hamas-controlled Gaza would challenge him as the legitimate representative of the Palestinians.
QNA quoted Turkish Deputy Premier Bulent Arinc as saying in a statement on Sunday that Erdogan was scheduled to meet with the head of Egypt's ruling military council, Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi and other leading Egyptian politicians and intellectuals during the visit.
Arinc stated that the visit was expected to produce important decisions reflecting the strength of relations between Turkey and Egypt. He added that Turkey hopes for reforms and elections in Egypt to proceed in accordance with the will of the people.
The Turkish deputy prime minister said that Erdogan would possibly cross into Gaza at the Rafah crossing after making arrangements with the relevant Egyptian authorities.
The announcement came as diplomatic relations between Turkey and Israel were severely strained following the release of the Palmer Commission
report on the raid of the Mavi Marmara
and Israel's refusal to answer Ankara's insistence that it issue an apology for the incident.
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu announced at a press conference
on Friday, that Ankara was expelling
Israel’s ambassador, and freezing all military agreements. He also said
Turkey would take measures for freedom of maritime movement in the
eastern Mediterranean Sea, no longer recognize the Gaza blockade, and
support “flotilla victims” who take the matter to court.
Israel has also recently experienced tension in its relations with Egypt
following the deaths of five Egyptian soldiers during a firefight
between the IDF and terrorists during last month's Eilat terror attacks.
The incident led to a four-day demonstration outside the Israeli embassy
in Cairo, where Egyptian protesters demanded the peace treaty with
Israel be annulled.Herb Keinon contributed to this report.