Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan_311.
(photo credit: Reuters)
Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan said on Sunday he will visit the Gaza
Strip at the end of May after an official trip to the United States in the
middle of the month.
Erdogan did not give a specific date for the visit
but said during a televised speech in Ankara it would be “around the end of
He will travel to Washington to meet President Barack Obama after
The Turkish leader, who has for years spoken of his desire to
visit the Palestinian enclave, was expected to travel there this month but
postponed his trip at the request of Washington, the Turkish Daily Hurriyet
other local media reported.
The United States wanted the trip delayed
the reports said, so as not to spoil a nascent rapprochement between Turkey and
Last month, Obama brokered a first step in reconciliation between
the two former allies when Israel apologized for the killing of nine Turks in
2010 when it raided the Gaza bound ship the Mavi Marmara.
At the end of
Obama’s visit to Israel last month, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu apologized
to his Turkish counterpart
over the killings and pledged compensation to the
bereaved, meeting a long-standing Turkish demand. Turkey, for its part, appeared
to back off a separate demand that Israel stop blockading Gaza.
the Turkish newspaper Sunday’s Zamen reported that Erdogan said he would not
send Turkey’s ambassador back to Israel until the blockade on the Gaza Strip is
He explained that Israel must lift the blockade before full
diplomatic ties can be restored, according to Sunday’s Zamen.
asked that Israel delay sending a delegation to work out the details for the
reconciliation. The delegation, which had been scheduled to travel to Turkey at
the start of this month, is now due to head there on April 22.
official said that Jerusalem was reserving judgement on Ankara’s statements and
actions until its delegation returned from Turkey. Nothing will happen until
that meeting, the official said.
Israel wants to restore ties with
Turkey, but it is also realistic about the relationship, the official said.
Israel seeks to restore ties because of the civil violence in Syria, a country
that borders both Israel and Turkey, the official said.
in the relationship with Turkey is a step forward in the right direction, the
Israeli official said.
US Secretary of State John Kerry met Erdogan in
Istanbul last week, his second visit to Turkey in just over a month, but it was
not clear if they had discussed the Gaza visit.