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Hamas leader Haniyeh to hold talks with Turkey

Hamas leader Haniyeh to hold talks with Turkey

 


INSTANT: Hamas political leader Ismail Haniyeh will meet TürkiyePresident Recep Tayyip Erdogan Saturday, with tensions in the Middle East at their height after Israelthe reported attack on Iran and Gaza preparing for a new Israeli offensive.
Erdogan has sought, unsuccessfully, to gain a foothold as a mediator in the Palestinian conflict. And he remained discreet about his meetings with the leader of Hamas.
“We will keep the agenda between us and Mr Haniyeh,” Erdogan said when asked by journalists on Friday.
An official source said the two men would meet at Dolmabahce Palace on the banks of the Bosphorus at 2:00 p.m. (11:00 GMT). Hamas, for its part, declared in a statement that the war in Gaza would feature in the negotiations.
While Qatar announced that it would reassess its role as mediator between Hamas and Israel, Erdogan sent Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan to Doha on Wednesday, a new sign that he wants to play a role.
“Even if only I, Tayyip Erdogan, stays, 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 on Wednesday when announcing the imminent visit from Hamiyeh. .
Hamas has had an office in Turkey since 2011, when Turkey helped secure the deal allowing the group to release Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. Erdogan has maintained ties with Haniyeh, who is a frequent visitor.
Fidan was a former Turkish intelligence chief 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. However, this has never been confirmed by the Turkish authorities.
– Erdogan will criticize Israel –
If Qatar withdraws from mediation efforts, Turkey could seek to increase its mediation profile, based on its ties to Hamas, and Fidan will speak with Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry on Saturday.
Israel has said it is preparing an offensive against the Gaza city of Rafah and the reported Israeli attack on Iran's Isfahan province has only dimmed hopes for a move toward peace.
But Erdogan can only expect a “very limited” role due to his open condemnation of Israel and its actions in Gaza, according to Ciddi.
Last year, the Turkish leader compared Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's tactics to those of Nazi leader Adolf Hitler and called Israel a “terrorist state” because of its offensive against Hamas after the militant group's attacks on Israel on October 7.
Ciddi said Erdogan would not be welcome in Israel and that he could at most pass messages between Palestinian and Israeli negotiators.
The expert said Turkey would also not have major influence over Hamas in deciding the fate of the hostages it has held since October 7.
Hamas attacks left 1,170 dead in southern Israel, most of them civilians, according to an AFP count based on official Israeli figures.
The militants also took around 250 hostages. Israel estimates there are 129 remaining in Gaza, including 34 presumed dead.
Israel's retaliatory offensive has killed more than 34,000 people in Gaza, most of them women and children. according to the Hamas-run territory's health ministry.
According to press reports, which have never been denied, Haniyeh and other Hamas leaders were in Istanbul when the attacks were launched. They were asked to leave quietly after a photo showed them celebrating the deadly assault, according to the report.
Haniyeh returned to Türkiye in January and met with Fidan.
The Hamas leader has not met Erdogan since he and Palestinian Authority President Mahmud Abbas spoke with the Turkish president in July 2023.

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