A foreign ministry official related to Today’s Zaman on Sunday that Turkish officials had urged Mashaal to reach an agreement for the successful conclusion of reconciliation talks and the quick establishment of a unified government encompassing both sides. The official spoke under the customary rule of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the talks.
The source underscored that the reconciliation process is ongoing, with some issues still waiting to be resolved, but did not elaborate.
Mashaal met with President Abdullah Gül, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu on Friday. The talks were said to have concentrated on the Palestinian internal reconciliation process, the stalled Middle East peace process between Israel and Palestinian and the current crisis situation in Syria.
Regarding the move of the Hamas headquarters out of Syria in February, the diplomat stated that the organization was caught in the middle of fighting between the Damascus regime and resistance groups, both of which sought its support.
Mashaal, the exiled Hamas leader, paid a surprise visit to Ankara on Friday amid stalled reconciliation talks between the Gaza-ruling Hamas and the Palestinian Authority government of Fatah in the West Bank. The reconciliation talks have overseen the integration of Hamas into the internationally recognized Palestinian Liberal Organization (PLO), which conducts intermittent peace talks with Israel on the establishment of a free Palestinian state.
The fragmentation of Palestinian political groups has been cited by the international community as an obstacle to the ultimate success of Palestinian independence in the face of Israeli occupation. In 2007, Hamas took control of the Gaza Strip. Since then, Hamas has ruled Gaza, while Fatah’s Mahmoud Abbas, the only recognized leader of Palestine, has governed from the West Bank.
On Sunday, Mashaal lauded Turkey for extending great support to Palestinian internal reconciliation. “Turkey has an esteemed place in the world, and particularly Middle East. Therefore, we attach importance to our relations with Turkey,” Mashaal stated.
The major problem with the reconciliation talks between Hamas and Fatah is a refusal by Hamas to recognize Israel. Abbas asserted earlier this month that Hamas had agreed in a deal brokered in Doha between the groups on Feb.6 to accept the premise that being part of a united Palestinian government means recognizing Israel.
However, Iran has urged Mashaal to continue his group’s resistance against Israel. Iranian state TV quoted Ayatollah Ali Khamenei as telling Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh on Feb. 12 that people expect Hamas to continue its fight against Israel.
Although Hamas has cut ties with Syria, one of its major financiers, and fled its Damascus headquarters, its relations with Iran, which backs the Syrian regime, have barely been affected.