Turkey PM, Hamas chief meet as Ankara inks defense deal with Qatar

Davutoglu, Mashaal hold closed-door meeting in Doha as Turkey agrees to deploy troops to Gulf emirate ally

Ilan Ben Zion, a reporter at the Associated Press, is a former news editor at The Times of Israel.

Then-Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu delivers a speech during a meeting in Ankara on April 27, 2016. (AFP/Adem Altan)
Then-Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu delivers a speech during a meeting in Ankara on April 27, 2016. (AFP/Adem Altan)

Turkish President Ahmet Davutoglu met Hamas politburo chief Khaled Mashaal in Doha on Thursday during a state visit to the Gulf emirate of Qatar.

The two leaders met for over an hour in a closed-door meeting at the Four Seasons Hotel, just days after Mashaal paid a visit to Turkey to take part in the Thanks to Turkey Festival organized by a Palestinian student union in Istanbul.

According to an Israel Radio report, Davutoglu and Mashaal may have discussed the efforts by Turkey in talks with Israel to end the blockade on the Gaza Strip and Ankara’s involvement in rebuilding the Palestinian enclave.

Israel and Turkey have been locked in clandestine meetings to try to reconcile differences between the two former allies after nearly six years of chilly ties.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Wednesday that his envoys will meet with their Israeli counterparts next month in a final push to reach an agreement.

The Turkish president said the two countries are looking at setting up a series of water and electricity supply projects in the Gaza Strip to fulfill Turkey’s terms for reconciliation.

One of Ankara’s key demands has been the removal of Israel’s partial blockade over the coastal enclave.

Israel says it maintains the blockade along with Egypt in order to prevent the Strip’s Hamas rulers, who avowedly seek to destroy the Jewish state, from importing weaponry for use against Israel.

Davutoglu also inked a security cooperation agreement with Qatar during his two-day visit to the Gulf state, the state-run Anadolu Agency reported. As part of the deal, Turkey will deploy some of its troops to its Sunni Gulf ally.

Mashaal met with Erdogan in Istanbul in December to discuss “recent developments in the Middle East,” Turkish media reported at the time.

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