Hamas: US 'Consecrating Gaza Blockade'
Hamas slammed US Secretary of State John Kerry for urging Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to delay a visit to the Gaza Strip.
Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri accused Kerry and Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas, who met in Istanbul earlier in the day, of "collusion in a bid to maintain the (Israeli) blockade on Gaza," the AFP news agency reported.
"Hamas denounces the US position calling for the cancellation of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to Gaza. This proves US involvement in consecrating the Gaza blockade," Abu Zuhri said in a statement, according to AFP.
Kerry urged the Turkish prime minister to wait for the "right conditions", saying that at the moment “it would be better to delay” in order to foster the strained relations between Turkey and the Jewish state.
Erdogan announced last week that he was planning to visit the Hamas-controlled enclave at the end of next month after a key trip to Washington on May 16.
Kerry also met Abbas to continue talks "about how to get both sides back to the table," a State Department official said.
Kerry is working on a plan to try to boost the Palestinian economy as part of efforts to restart peace negotiations, which have been deadlocked since 2010.
Kerry had warned Wednesday that time to reach a peace deal was quickly coming to an end, stressing for the first time that there may only be a year or two left for such discussions.
The top US diplomat also said he was "confident" Abbas would find a successor to replace his prime minister Salam Fayyad, who resigned earlier this month.
Kerry's talks with Erdogan focused mainly on restoring predominantly Muslim Turkey's once-close ties with Israel.
Israeli and Turkish officials meet on Monday for talks on compensation over the 2010 Mavi Marmara flotilla incident, which resulted in the death of nine Turkish activists who were attempting to unlawfully breach Israel’s borders.
A State Department official said the United States was "continuing to encourage" attempts at a rapprochement and that efforts needed to be made "one step at a time," starting with the compensation issue.
Last month, upon the urging of President Barack Obama, Israel issued a formal apology to Turkey over the death of its citizens in the incident.
Ankara has insisted, however that despite the apology, the Jewish state must pay compensation for the raid victims and lift its punishing restrictions on Gaza, in order to enable a full restoration of ties.
Abbas’s Fatah movement, a long-time rival to Hamas, has said Erdogan's plans to visit Gaza would foster intra-Palestinian divisions.