Turkish President Erdoğan meets Hamas leader Mashal in Istanbul
Turkish President Erdoğan (R) shakes hands with Hamas leader Mashal. AA photoTurkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan met the leader of Palestinian group Hamas, Khaled Mashal, in Istanbul on June 24, state-run Anadolu Agency reported.
Erdoğan and Mashal discussed how to resolve the disagreements among Palestinians as well as Turkish humanitarian assistance, the report said, citing an unnamed source from the Turkish Presidency.
The Turkish leader emphasized during the meeting that Turkey was keen on easing the distress of Palestinians, the source, who was not named due to restrictions on speaking with the media, told Anadolu Agency.
The meeting came at a time Turkey and Israel are expected to announce a deal to normalize their ties.
Turkey has demanded Israel fulfill three conditions prior to any normalization in ties, namely, an apology for Israel’s raid on the Mavi Marmara aid convoy in 2010 that killed 10 Turkish activists, compensation to the families of the deceased and an end to the embargo on Gaza.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said on June 22 that Turkey’s ties with Hamas, considered a terrorist group by Israel, was not a subject in the talks.
“Our discussions with Hamas were never a secret from the very beginning. Suggestions we have made to Hamas leaders are also not a secret. On one side, we are trying to make a contribution to the Middle East peace process. We know that we haven’t been able to make this contribution adequately because our relations with Israel went off track. But everybody who has been paying attention to the Middle East issue, all of the countries and Israel, today acknowledge that there can be no permanent peace or solution without Hamas,” Çavuşoğlu said.
In April of 2014, rival Palestinian groups Hamas and Fatah signed a long-awaited reconciliation agreement that called for the formation of a Palestinian unity government tasked with overseeing Palestinian legislative and presidential elections.
Although the unity government was unveiled two months later, it has yet to take on a governing role in the Hamas-run Gaza Strip, while the relationship between the two factions remains beset by a host of longstanding differences.
Representatives of the two rival groups held a series of meetings in Doha in an effort to discuss means of implementing the agreement, but no breakthrough was made.