Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan 311 (R).
(photo credit: REUTERS/Umit Bektas)
Following Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's apology to Turkey
over the IDF raid of the 2010 Gaza flotilla, Hamas announced Saturday
that Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan will visit the Gaza
Strip "very soon."
In a dramatic development that occurred just as US President Barack Obama was leaving the country, Netanyahu spoke with Turkey's Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Friday.
Netanyahu voiced regret for the loss of life in the 2010 Mavi Marmara
incident, apologizing for any mistakes that led to the death of nine
Turkish activists. Breaking a three-year deadlock, the two agreed to
"Prime Minister Netanyahu expressed an
apology to the Turkish people for any error that may have led to the
loss of life, and agreed to complete the agreement for compensation," a
White House statement said.
The conversation was facilitated by Obama, taking place during his prolonged meeting with Netanyahu on Friday afternoon.
Turkish newspaper Today's Zaman
quoted Haniyeh as saying Saturday that Erdogan and Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal had
arranged the Turkish prime minister's visit to Gaza in a phone conversation in which the Turkish leader
had briefed Hamas on the apology from Netanyahu.
According to Haniyeh, Erdogan told Mashaal that Netanyahu had promised to "lift the siege on the Palestinian people."
the White House statement released following the phone call did not say
that Netanyahu would lift the siege of Gaza, it did state that the
prime minister pointed out that Israel has already lifted some
limitations including the passage of goods and people to Gaza, and that
this will continue as long as quiet is preserved.
An official Hamas statement released Friday applauded Erdogan for having won the apology from Netanyahu.
Bulent Yildirim, mastermind behind the Gaza flotilla, expressed his pride over Netanyahu's formal apology to Turkey for the raid, Turkish daily Hurriyet
reported on Friday.
Amidst Erdogan's expressed hope for renewed friendship and ties with Israel, Yildirim called for further resistence and was quoted by Hurriyet
as saying, "the struggle will continue until the blockade is lifted."
The report notably included that Yildirim expressed his belief that the pending trial against former Israeli commanders involved in the raid would continue as planned, apology or no apology.
This belief contradicts reports that Turkey will drop the trial as a result of the reconciliatory conversation which took place between Netanyahu and Erdogan.
Erdogan has announced plans to visit Gaza
on three separate occasions - in July and again in September of 2011,
and most recently in December of 2012, eventually canceling the plans
each time.Herb Keinon contributed to this report.