Hamas is hailing the announcement by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan that he will defy requests from the U.S. not to visit the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip in late May. Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh is celebrating the trip as marking the end of American hegemony:
In a brief statement from Doha, a copy of which was received by the Palestinian Information Centre, Haniyeh said: “We welcome the visit of the Turkish Prime Minister and we appreciate this attitude, which shows the nobility of Turkey’s leadership and people, and shows its embrace of and support for the Palestinian cause.” He stressed that the visit confirmed the time of American domination has ended.
Erdogan is traveling to the Gaza Strip over the repeated objections of State Department officials.
Hamas also dismissed criticism of the trip leveled by the U.S.-backed Palestinian Authority (PA). The PA fears that Erodgan’s arrival will boost Hamas, and has blasted the Turkish prime minister over his plans. PA opposition was also among the many reasons cited by the State Department for describing Erdogan’s trip as “counterproductive.”
Erdogan’s trip will be coming immediately after he is greeted in Washington by U.S. President Obama. The Turkish prime minister has not been shy about linking the two events:
Erdogan, who has always underlined his desire to visit the Palestinian enclave, said last week he planned to go to Gaza following an official visit to the United States in May. “Delaying my trip (to Gaza) is out of question. As I said in the past the Gaza trip will take place after my trip to the United States. There will be no delay,” Erdogan told reporters, according to state media.
Analysts have suggested that Erdogan’s calculations are being driven by domestic considerations, with the prime minister facing criticism from Islamist hard-liners after he was maneuvered into accepting reconciliation with Israel on terms that he had long derided as inadequate.
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