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ISTANBUL: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan meets Ismail Haniyeh, the political leader of Hamas, at the Dolmabahce Presidential working office on April 20, 2024. - AFP
ISTANBUL: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan meets Ismail Haniyeh, the political leader of Hamas, at the Dolmabahce Presidential working office on April 20, 2024. - AFP

Erdogan meets Haniyeh; Abbas to reassess US ties

ISTANBUL: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan urged Palestinians to unite amid the Zionist entity’s war in Gaza following hours-long talks with Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh in Istanbul on Saturday, his office said. Tensions in the region are running high as the Hamas-run Palestinian territory braces for a new Zionist offensive and a reported Zionist attack on Iran.

Erdogan called on Palestinians to unite following the talks at the Dolmabahce palace, on the banks of the Bosphorus strait, that Turkish media reports said lasted more than two and a half hours. “It is vital that Palestinians act with unity in this process. The strongest response to (the Zionist entity) and the path to victory lie in unity and integrity,” Erdogan said according to a Turkish presidency statement. Hamas is a rival of the Fatah faction that rules the semi-autonomous Palestinian Authority in the occupied West Bank.

The Palestinian Authority will “reconsider” its relationship with the United States after Washington vetoed a Palestinian bid for full UN membership earlier this week, President Mahmoud Abbas said Saturday. “The Palestinian leadership will reconsider bilateral relations with the United States, in a way that ensures the protection of the interests of our people, our cause and our rights,” Abbas told the official Palestinian news agency Wafa.

Thursday’s vote saw 12 countries on the UN Security Council back a resolution recommending full Palestinian membership and two – Britain and Switzerland – abstain. Only the United States, the Zionist entity’s staunchest ally, voted against, using its veto to block the resolution. Abbas said the Palestinian leadership will “develop a new strategy to protect Palestinian national decisions independently and follow a Palestinian agenda rather than an American vision or regional agendas”.

He said Palestinians would “not remain hostage to policies that have proven their failure and have been exposed to the entire world”. And he said the stance of the US government had “generated unprecedented anger among the Palestinian people and the region’s populations, potentially pushing the region towards further instability, chaos and terrorism”.

As soaring tensions between Iran and the Zionist entity stoke fears of a wider regional war, Erdogan said recent events should not allow the Zionist entity to “gain ground and that it is important to act in a way that keeps attention on Gaza”. With Qatar saying it will reassess its role as a mediator between Hamas and the Zionist entity, Erdogan sent Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan to Doha on Wednesday in a new sign that he wants a role.

“Even if only I, Tayyip Erdogan, remain, I will continue as long as God gives me my life, to defend the Palestinian struggle and to be the voice of the oppressed Palestinian people,” the president said Wednesday when he announced Haniyeh’s visit. Hamas has had an office in Turkey since 2011 when Turkey helped secure the agreement for the group to free Zionist soldier Gilad Shalit. Erdogan has maintained links with Haniyeh, who has been a frequent visitor.

Fidan was a past head of Turkish intelligence and the country provided information and passports to Hamas officials, including Haniyeh, according to Sinan Ciddi, a Turkey specialist at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies in Washington. This has never been confirmed by Turkish authorities, however.

If Qatar withdraws from mediation efforts, Turkey could seek to increase its mediation profile based on its Hamas links. Fidan on Saturday held talks with visiting Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, with both men emphasizing the need to deliver more humanitarian aid to devastated Gaza where the threat of famine looms. Turkey is one of Gaza’s main humanitarian aid partners, sending 45,000 tonnes of supplies and medicine in the region.

But Erdogan can only expect a “very limited” role because of his outspoken condemnation of the Zionist entity and its actions in Gaza, according to Ciddi. Last year, the Turkish leader likened the tactics of Zionist Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to those of Nazi leader Adolf Hitler and called Israel a “terrorist state” because of its offensive against Hamas. Ciddi said Erdogan would not be welcome in the Zionist entity and at most might be able to pass messages between Palestinian and Zionist negotiators. – AFP

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