Despite calls from the United States to delay the visit indefinitely, Turkey says that the travel plans of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan are unchanged, and he will visit the Gaza Strip in May.
Analysts say that Erdogan’s visit is driven primarily by an attempt to improve his political standing domestically, facing a voting public that is not at all sold on recent attempts to broker a solution to the long-standing Kurdish conflict.
Secretary of State John Kerry told Erdogan that visiting the Gaza Strip would “threaten” the peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. Since those talks aren’t going on anyhow, and there is no sign of them starting any time soon, the complaint was dismissed pretty quickly.
Erdogan has been talking up a possible visit to Gaza since the Mavi Marmara killings in 2010, but the logistics of such a visit remain difficult. It may be more readily done, however, after Qatar’s emir made a similar visit in October.