Turkey's Prime Minister will visit the Gaza Strip next week it has been announced by the Palestinian Ministerial Council in the besieged territory. The council's Secretary General, Abdul-Salam Syam, said that Recep Tayyip Erdogan will cross into Gaza on Friday 5th July. He stressed that the visit has been confirmed by Ankara and an official delegation is already in Gaza to make arrangements for the prime minister's arrival.
According to members of the Turkish delegation, Mr Erdogan has said that only an emergency will prevent him from going to Gaza. He is expected to stay for 2 days, the agenda for which is being discussed with the Palestinian Deputy Foreign Minister Ghazi Hamad.
Erdogan announced his plan to visit the Gaza Strip about two month ago. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas travelled to Turkey in May to ask him not to go; Abbas believes that it will reinforce Palestine's internal political division. Using the US as an intermediary, Israel has also tried to make sure that the visit does not go ahead. Secretary of State John Kerry was told in no uncertain terms that this is an internal Turkish affair and the government rejects external interference in such matters. "Turkey itself," said a government spokesman, "will decide when and where its officials travel."