Erdogan, Hamas leader Mashaal meet in Istanbul
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Erdogan, Hamas leader Mashaal meet in Istanbul

Meeting at Yildiz Palace takes place just days after Israel announces series of measures to revive ties with Turkey

Then Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan meets with Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal in 2012. (Yasin Bulbul/AP)
Then Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan meets with Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal in 2012. (Yasin Bulbul/AP)

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan met with Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal in Istanbul on Saturday, according to presidential sources who spoke to the Turkish media.

During the meeting the Hamas politburo chief, who is based in Qatar, informed Erdogan of “recent developments in the Middle East,” the reports said.

No other details about the meeting at Istanbul’s Yildiz Palace were immediately available.

The encounter was timed just days after Israel unveiled a series of steps to revive ties with Turkey that have been discussed in clandestine negotiations with Ankara.

A major aspect of the development is an agreement to lay down a natural gas pipeline to Turkey and the sale of Israeli-produced natural gas to the country. Turkey currently buys a third of its natural gas from Russia, but bilateral ties have soured since the Turkish Air Force shot down a Russian jet that the Turks claimed violated their airspace on November 24.

Among the steps Turkey needs to take, as reported by Israeli media, is forbidding Hamas activist Salah Arouri, engineer of the kidnapping and murder of three West Bank teens in June 2014, entering Turkey, and a general ban on allowing “terror activities” to take place in Turkey.

So far, Hamas has not issued a reaction to the reports detailing the new Israeli-Turkish understandings.

The last meeting between Erdogan and the Hamas leader took place four months ago, on August 13, before the escalation in Palestinian terror attacks against Israelis.

Twenty-two Israelis have been killed and 252 wounded, according to Foreign Ministry data, as of December 14, while around 100 Palestinians have been killed, most of them in the course of their attacks, and more than 1,000 wounded. Many of the Palestinian wounded were hurt during clashes with Israeli security forces in the West Bank and in East Jerusalem, including hundreds who suffered from inhaling tear gas and other minor injuries from riot dispersal measures.

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