(JTA) — Turkey’s prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, will go ahead with a planned visit next month to Gaza, despite a request from U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to postpone.
Erdogan reportedly refused Kerry’s request to postpone the visit during a meeting Sunday between the two leaders in Istanbul. The Turkish leader already had postponed his visit from April to May — after a scheduled meeting in Washington in mid-May.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas also asked Erdogan to delay the visit during their meeting in Istanbul, saying it could harm relations between the West Bank and Gaza Strip, which is run by the terror group Hamas.
Erdogan reportedly plans to visit Gaza on or around May 31, the three-year anniversary of the Mavi Marmara incident in which nine Turkish citizens were killed when Israeli naval commandos raided the ship attempting to break Israel’s naval blockade of Gaza.
Israeli negotiators met Monday in Ankara with Turkish officials to discuss paying compensation to the families of the victims of the 2010 raid.
The negotiations are part of the process of restoring diplomatic ties between Israel and Turkey that were severed following the raid. The process of repair began following an apology last month by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to Erdogan.