ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Turkey’s president has called for “unity and solidarity” between the Palestinian factions during a meeting with Hamas chief Khaled Mashaal.

A presidential statement said Abdullah Gul expressed the need for a reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah at a time when many in the region are “embracing democracy within the framework of the Arab spring.”

Gul met with Hamas’ exiled leader in Istanbul on Saturday as reconciliation efforts have encountered new obstacles.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has said he cannot form an interim government to prepare for elections unless he has Israeli assurances that elections are also held in east Jerusalem.

Mashaal faces internal opposition from Hamas leaders in Gaza who are reluctant to hand over authority to Abbas.