Erdoğan meets Hamas leader Meshaal in Istanbul

Erdoğan meets Hamas leader Meshaal in Istanbul

ISTANBUL - Reuters
Erdoğan meets Hamas leader Meshaal in Istanbul

Turkish President Erdoğan (R) meets with Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal in Istanbul, Turkey, December 19, 2015, in this handout photo provided by the Presidential Palace. REUTERS Photo

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan met with Khaled Mashaal, leader of the Palestinian militant group Hamas, on Dec. 19 in Istanbul, Turkish presidential sources said, a day after Israel and Turkey said they were close to patching up a five-year political rift. 

A source from Erdoğan’s office said Mashaal “briefed Erdoğan on the latest developments in the region,” without giving further details, according to Reuters.

The Islamist Hamas controls the Gaza strip. 

Israeli officials said late on Dec. 17 that a deal with Turkey was struck to normalize ties following high-level bilateral talks in Switzerland. 

A Turkish government official has confirmed to the Hürriyet Daily News that Israeli and Turkish officials held talks in Switzerland and could reach a deal soon.

“We have not reached an agreement yet,” the official said on Dec. 17 while responding to a question on reports that said the two countries had reached a preliminary deal.

“But [talks] may result soon,” the official said.

Talks with Israel have been ongoing for some time, Turkish Prime Ministry officials told the Daily News, adding that talks were continuing in a positive manner, but no consensus had been reached. 

Israel’s once-strong ties to Turkey soured in 2010 when Israeli commandoes killed 10 Turkish activists while storming the Mavi Marmara, a ship in a convoy seeking to break an Israeli naval blockade of the Palestinian territory of Gaza. 

Turkey had demanded Israel apologize over the assault, pay compensation and lift the Gaza blockade. For Israel, limiting Hamas activity in Turkey has been key. 

Under the preliminary deal between the two countries, Saleh al-Aruori, a senior leader in Hamas who has been living in Turkey, would be barred from the country, the Israeli official had said.

The Turkish official, on the other hand, noting that he had no information on whether al-Arouri was in Turkey or not, said the issue was not at all part of negotiations with Israel.

“We did not discuss specific names,” the official said, adding that the matter would be dealt with if Israel conveyed it separately as a “security” matter.