Haniyeh, the leader of Gaza Strip’s Hamas visits PM Erdoğan
The Gaza Strip’s Hamas premier arrived in Turkey on Sunday to meet with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the head of an Islamic aid group whose Gaza-bound vessel was the target of a deadly raid by Israeli troops in 2010. Ismail Haniyeh is on an official tour of the Muslim world, his first trip outside the blockaded territory since the Islamist group overran Gaza in 2007. Turkey’s ties with Israel, a former ally, deteriorated sharply over the flotilla raid that killed nine activists on the Turkish boat, and Erdoğan has demanded that Israel lift all restrictions on the Palestinian territory.
A statement by the Humanitarian Aid Foundation (İHH), one of the organizers of the flotilla of six aid vessels headed for the Gaza Strip that was subjected to a deadly raid by the Israeli military on May 31, 2010, said on Sunday that Haniyeh will pay a visit to the İHH and hold a joint press conference with İHH Chairman Bülent Yıldırım on Monday. The statement said Haniyeh will also visit the Turkish ship the Mavi Marmara, which was part of the international flotilla that attempted to breach the Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip. Eight Turks and a Turkish-American were killed aboard the Mavi Marmara in the attack by Israeli.
Haniyeh’s visit to Turkey follows a trip by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to Turkey last month, when he met with top Turkish officials to discuss measures for recognition of the Palestinian state.
Although Abbas pays frequent visits to Turkey, it will be the first time Haniyeh has left Gaza since the Hamas movement seized power in Gaza, as the leader was busy in the region for both foreign and domestic reasons.
Back in June, Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal visited Turkey to have talks with Turkey’s foreign minister, Ahmet Davutoğlu, with whom he discussed stalled efforts to create a Palestinian unity government. Mashaal’s visit was unannounced and coincided with a visit from Abbas, who was in Turkey at the time to meet with Turkish officials. Turkish officials said no meeting between Abbas and Mashaal had been planned by Turkey, but the country is a known supporter of unity between Hamas and Abbas’ Fatah officials, both of whom are engaged in a common bid to announce a sovereign Palestine. Unification attempts were stalled when the sides failed to agree on a prime minister.
While Fatah is considered the legitimate administration leading the Palestinian Authority, Hamas is recognized as a terrorist organization by European countries and Israel, which says Hamas launches deadly rocket attacks from within Gaza, targeting Israeli soldiers and civilians.
Turkey strongly supports the international recognition of a sovereign Palestinian state.
SOURCE: TODAYS ZAMAN