Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan
announced Friday that he plans to visit Gaza Strip,
Turkey's Today Zaman newspaper reported.
According to the report, Erdogan said that his office is in contact with the Hamas
government in Gaza, and that the two administrations are trying to coordinate the visit.
Talking to reporters on a flight from Berlin, Erdogan reiterated Turkey's demand that Israel
lift the blockade placed on Gaza, adding it was a prerequisite for the rehabilitation of the diplomatic ties between Ankara and Jerusalem.
downgraded its relations with Israel after INF commandos intercepted the Gaza-bound Mavi Marmara
flotilla in 2010. Nine Turkish nationals were killed in the raid and relations between the once close allies have been chilly ever since.
The Turkish PM also praise the Emir of Qatar Sheik Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani over his recent visit
to the Strip.
He noted that he asked Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas
to accompany him on the visit and that the latter "responded warmly to the offer." Erdogan said that he maid similar offers to Abbas in the past, but a visit never came to fruition.
Erdogan met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel
and told reporters that they discussed the Israeli-Palestinian conflict
and that Merkel asked him to work towards improving relations with Israel.
But the Turkish premier reportedly told the German chancellor that unless Jerusalem meets Ankara's demands
in full – lifting the Gaza blockade, offering Turkey an official apology over the Marmara raid, and offering restitution to the families of the victims – no such improvement would be possible.
According to Erdogan, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
had "sent very weird diplomats" to Ankara following the incident, and they were presented with Turkey's demands.
He did not elaborate on the matter any further.
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