Erdogan to go ahead with Gaza visit

June 27, 2013 at 7:45 AM

GAZA, June 27 (UPI) -- Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan plans to visit the Gaza Strip next week, Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh told visiting Turkish officials.

Turkish television Thursday reported Erdogan's visit to the coastal enclave was scheduled for July 5.

Both Israel and the United States object to the plan.

"Prime Minister Erdogan won the hearts and minds of every Palestinian with his brave stance in Davos. I'm telling the prime minister, Gaza is waiting for you," Haniyeh told a group of Turkish officials visiting Gaza Wednesday. The Turkish officials are coordinating Erdogan's visit, the International Middle East Media Center said.

Haniyeh's comment on Davos referred to the Davos Economic Summit in 2009, which occurred shortly after the Israeli military offensive Operation Cast Lead in Gaza, Hurriyet Daily News reported. Erdogan verbally lashed out at President Shimon Peres and angrily stalked off the stage.

Haniyeh described Erdogan's visit as a big step toward lifting the Israeli embargo on Gaza, the newspaper said.

"Palestinian foreign policy is in line with Turkish foreign policy. Turkey is a model country for Palestine," Haniyeh said.

Last week Haniyeh met with Erdogan and Hamas political bureau chief Khaled Mashal in Ankara.

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