Egyptian authorities announced Sunday that they would not allow Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to enter the Gaza Strip for a planned visit that was to take place later this month.
The Egyptian news site Youm7, citing a diplomatic source in Cairo, reported that Erdogan’s trip to the Strip was canceled due to his support of the Muslim Brotherhood and the ousted Egyptian president, Mohammed Morsi.
According to Turkish sources, Erdogan planned to visit Gaza in order to put pressure on Israeli authorities to end the naval blockade on the Hamas-controlled territory. The blockade was imposed by Israel in response to the violent Hamas takeover in 2007, in order to prevent weaponry reaching the strip. It has not been lifted since, although its terms have been eased. Israel and Egypt control all of the border crossings to the Strip.
Hamas spokesmen Sami Abu Zuhri criticized the decision to deny the Turkish prime minister passage into Gaza, claiming it was based on “the premise that the Hamas movement is hostile,” the Palestinian news agency Ma’an reported. “This is a dangerous development, which confirms that the current powers in Egypt are giving up on national causes and even using these issues to deal with other parties, first among them the Palestinian cause,” Abu Zuhri added.
In May, Turkish writer and researcher Zahid Gul said a Turkish government official had hinted to him that Erdogan planned to make a joint trip to the Gaza Strip with Morsi, who was still ruling Egypt at the time.
Last month, Egyptian officials announced that prosecutors would investigate allegations that Egypt’s ousted president had escaped from prison during the 2011 revolution with help from Hamas.
The US, Israel and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas had been asking Erdogan to delay or cancel his visit to Gaza, saying it may cause serious harm to diplomatic relations between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.