Turkey cautioned on PM's visit to Gaza

March 29, 2013 at 12:45 PM

ANKARA, Turkey, March 29 (UPI) -- An expected visit to Gaza by Turkey's prime minister should be planned to avoid further dividing rival Palestinian factions, a Palestinian diplomat said.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan said this week he plans the visit to monitor the status of the Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip.

Fadi F. Elhusseini, a senior diplomat at the Palestinian embassy in Ankara, said a trip that didn't first include a visit with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas "would harm the Palestinian cause," Today's Zaman reported Thursday.

Erdogan's visit is being planned following an agreement reached by Arab League leaders to hold a mini-summit in hopes of reconciling the split between Fatah and Hamas.

Erdogan should not bypass Abbas, the leader of Fatah, when he visits Gaza, which is controlled by Hamas, Elhusseini said.

Gaza is not an independent state, he said, and Hamas is not the legitimate representative of the Palestinians.

"If officials first visit Abbas, this is not a problem," Elhusseini said. "However, if they go and visit Gaza and ignore the legitimate authority it would mean siding with one party, which is not an appropriate action."

Such concerns were not mentioned in an official statement by the embassy that "every Palestinian city will be honored to receive [Erdogan]."

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