Palestinian leader Abbas to visit Turkey’s Erdogan for talks on Gaza war

Reconciliation between PA president’s Fatah party and Hamas terror group also on the agenda for Tuesday, says Turkish foreign minister

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah on February 5, 2024 (Nasser Nasser / POOL / AFP)
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah on February 5, 2024 (Nasser Nasser / POOL / AFP)

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas will visit Turkey on Tuesday for talks about the Gaza war and reconciliation efforts between Palestinian factions, the Turkish foreign minister said on Sunday.

The visit comes as intensive diplomacy is underway to pause the fighting in the almost five-month-old war between Israel and Hamas, sparked by the Palestinian terror group’s devastating October 7 attack that killed 1,200 people amid wholesale atrocities.

Egypt, Qatar, and the United States have been mediating in weeks of talks to secure a truce by the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan in a week.

Turkey’s Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan said: “There is a serious desire and effort to reach a ceasefire before Ramadan,” in closing remarks to an annual diplomacy forum in the Mediterranean holiday resort of Antalya.

Fidan confirmed that Abbas would visit the Turkish capital Ankara on Tuesday at the invitation of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, a vocal advocate of the Palestinian cause.

The leaders would discuss “the developments in Palestine, the current course of the war as well as the intra-Palestinian” dialogue, Fidan said.

Turkish Minister of Foreign Affairs Hakan Fidan speaks during a press conference at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Venezuela in Caracas on February 24, 2024. (Federico PARRA / AFP)

Hamas, designated a terrorist organization by the United States, the European Union, Israel, and several other countries, is a rival of Abbas’s Fatah faction that rules the semi-autonomous Palestinian Authority in the West Bank.

It ousted Fatah from Gaza with a bloody coup in 2007 following a landslide victory in the last Palestinian parliamentary elections the previous year. The two movements have remained at odds ever since despite repeated efforts at reconciliation.

Erdogan has become one of the harshest critics of Israel’s war in Gaza.

He has branded Israel a “terrorist state” and compared Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to Adolf Hitler, while calling Hamas “a liberation group.”

The Gaza war began on October 7 with a massive Hamas attack on southern Israel that saw thousands burst through the border with Gaza to rampage murderously through southern regions, carrying out widespread gang rape, torture, and mutilation of victims. Entire families were slaughtered as they huddled in their homes and 364 people were massacred at an outdoor music festival.

Gaza terrorists also abducted 253 hostages of all ages, including the elderly, infirm, and infants. Of those, 130 remain in captivity, according to Israel, a figure that includes 31 presumed dead.

Israel responded with a military campaign to destroy Hamas, topple its Gaza regime, and free the hostages.

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, right, and PA President Mahmoud Abbas shake hands during a welcome ceremony in Ankara, Turkey, Aug. 23, 2022. (AP Photo/Burhan Ozbilici)

Istanbul served as a base for Hamas political leaders before the devastating October 7 attack. The NATO member asked the Hamas leaders to leave after some were captured on video celebrating the unprecedented onslaught.

However, Ankara has maintained intermittent communication with the Hamas leadership, which sees Turkey as a potential ally in negotiations for a possible ceasefire and hostage deal.

Following the outbreak of war, Israel recalled its diplomats from Turkey after Erdogan accused Israel of committing war crimes. Turkey later also recalled its ambassador from Israel.

With the question still unanswered of who will take over control of Gaza when the war concludes, Palestinian factions have made efforts at reconciliation. Last week, Moscow hosted Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Fatah, and other Palestinian groups for talks on the war in Gaza and an eventual postwar period.

This handout picture provided by the Palestinian Authority’s Press Office (PPO) shows PA Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh (L) presenting the resignation of his government to Mahmoud Abbas, in Ramallah on February 26, 2024. (Thaer GHANEM / PPO / AFP)

The meeting came days after the PA government resigned, with its Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh saying the move was to allow for the formation of a broad consensus among Palestinians about political arrangements after the conclusion of the war.

Abbas, as president, remains in office.

In June 2023, Turkey hosted Abbas and Hamas political leader Ismail Haniyeh for talks in Ankara. Sources close to the Fatah party and Hamas said that the Ankara meeting focused on Palestinian unity and how to end divisions.

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