The Palestinian Authority opposes Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s intention to visit the Gaza Strip, a senior PA official in Ramallah said Wednesday.

Erdogan announced earlier this week that he would visit the Gaza Strip in the near future. The announcement came shortly after Israel apologized for the 2010 IDF raid on a Turkish aid flotilla, paving the way for normalizing Turkish- Israeli relations.

Erdogan told officials from the ruling Justice and Development Party that he would travel to the Gaza Strip to check whether Israel has kept its promise to ease its blockade on the Hamas-controlled territory.

“The Palestinian Authority leadership has informed the Turkish government that we are opposed to such a visit because it would deepen divisions among the Palestinians,” the PA official said. “The Gaza Strip is not an independent Palestinian state and Hamas is not the legitimate representative of the Palestinians.”

The PA leadership has in the past opposed visits to the Gaza Strip by the emir of Qatar and the Malaysian prime minister, who nevertheless chose to ignore the PA’s stance.

More recently, the Tunisian president called off a planned visit to the Gaza Strip following strong protests from the PA leadership.

The PA fears that such visits would legitimize Hamas’s rule of the Gaza Strip and affect the PLO’s claim to be the sole and legitimate representative of the Palestinians.

Israel Radio reported that late Wednesday evening, a White House representative said the US sees Erdogan’s intentions to visit Gaza as counterproductive to efforts to restore ties between Ankara and Jerusalem.

In a related development, the London-based Al-Quds Al- Arabi newspaper reported that Erdogan might take PA President Mahmoud Abbas with him on his trip to the Gaza Strip.

According to the report, the Turkish government has decided to join Arab efforts to end the dispute between Fatah and Hamas.

The newspaper said that Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu has been in touch with Palestinian and Arab parties to discuss ways of boosting efforts to achieve reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah.

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