The Palestinian Authority in Ramallah is to ask Turkey's Prime Minister to delay his proposed visit to the Gaza Strip until internal reconciliation is achieved. A report in London-based Al-Quds al-Arabi newspaper said that high level talks are taking place between senior Palestinian officials and their Turkish counterparts regarding Recep Tayyip Erdogan's visit planned for next month.
The same measure was taken over a visit by Tunisia's President Moncef Marzouki who was supposed to visit Gaza several weeks ago. Mahmoud Abbas exerted a lot of pressure to delay the trip.
Local sources in Palestine say that Abbas, who is expected to visit Turkey soon, is to ask Erdogan to delay his trip as well. Officials in Gaza believe that a visit by Turkey's prime minister would help to end the Israeli-led blockade of the territory which has been in place since 2006.
According to senior members of Fatah, the main factional rival to Hamas, a visit by Mr Erdogan to Gaza would reinforce the division unless it was arranged through the PA leadership in Ramallah. Azzam al-Ahmed of Fatah's Executive Committee confirmed that Abbas is going to Ankara to try to persuade Erdogan that a visit at this time "would not be in Palestine's best interests".
Al-Ahmed's claim that the Palestinian government in Gaza is "illegal" was condemned by MEMO's senior editor. "Mr Al-Ahmed appears to have a selective memory," said Ibrahim Hewitt. "The Hamas government was elected by the people of Palestine. The Ramallah PA has no democratic legitimacy; even Mahmoud Abbas's term of office ended in 2009 but he has held on to power thanks to Western and Israeli support." It is becoming ever more obvious, he added, that the PA under Mahmoud Abbas has no enthusiasm for seeing the blockade of Gaza brought to an end as it serves the interests of his faction, not those of the Palestinian people.