Hamas leader Haniyeh to hold Turkey talks

Erdogan can only expect a 'very limited' role because of his outspoken condemnation of Israel and its actions in Gaza

By AFP

  • Follow us on
  • google-news
  • whatsapp
  • telegram

 

Photo: AFP
Photo: AFP

Published: Sat 20 Apr 2024, 2:51 PM

Last updated: Sat 20 Apr 2024, 2:52 PM

Hamas political leader Ismail Haniyeh will meet Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday with Middle East tensions at a high after Israel's reported attack on Iran and Gaza bracing for a new Israeli offensive.

Erdogan has sought but failed to establish a foothold as a mediator in the Palestinian conflict. He has remained discreet about his meetings with the Hamas leader.


Stay up to date with the latest news. Follow KT on WhatsApp Channels.

"We will keep the agenda between us and Mr Haniyeh," Erdogan said when questioned by journalists on Friday.


But with Qatar saying it will reassess its role as a mediator between Hamas and Israel, Erdogan sent his 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 on Wednesday when he announced Haniyeh's looming visit.

Hamas has had an office in Turkey since 2011 when Turkey helped secure the agreement for the group to free Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. Erdogan has maintained links with Haniyeh, who has been a frequent visitor.

Foreign Minister 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. However, this has never been confirmed by Turkish authorities.

If Qatar withdraws from mediation efforts, Turkey could seek to increase its mediation profile, based on its Hamas links. On Saturday, Fidan will hold talks with Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry.

Israel has said it is preparing an offensive against the Gaza city of Rafah and the reported Israeli attack on the Iranian province of Isfahan has only clouded hopes of a peace breakthrough.

But Erdogan can only expect a "very limited" role because of his outspoken condemnation of Israel and its actions in Gaza, according to Ciddi.

Last year, the Turkish leader likened the tactics of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to those of Nazi leader Adolf Hitler and called Israel a "terrorist state" because of its offensive against Hamas after the group's October 7 attacks on Israel.

Ciddi said Erdogan would not be welcome in Israel and at most might be able to pass messages between Palestinian and Israel negotiators.

The expert said that Turkey would not have a major influence over Hamas either in deciding the fate of hostages it has held since October 7.

The Hamas attacks resulted in the deaths of 1,170 people in southern Israel, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally of Israeli official figures.

Hamas also took about 250 hostages. Israel estimates 129 remain in Gaza, including 34 who are presumed dead.

Israel's retaliatory offensive has killed more than 34,000 people in Gaza, mostly women and children, according to the Gaza health ministry.

ALSO READ:


More news from World