Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has met with visiting leader of the Gaza-based Palestinian resistance movement, Hamas, amid reports suggesting that Ankara and Tel Aviv are close to agreeing a deal on normalizing tense ties. Erdogan received Khaled Meshaal in Istanbul on Friday, Turkey’s official Anadolu news agency reported, quoting presidential sources.
The two sides discussed how to ease the humanitarian problems that the Palestinians are grappling with and how to bridge the differences between Hamas and the Palestinian Fatah movement. Fatah and Hamas have been at odds after a joint national consensus government was dissolved in June 2015, just a year after it was initially established.
The two key rival factions have had particularly tense relations since Hamas scored a major victory in Palestinian legislative elections in 2006 and emerged the ruling party in the Israeli-besieged Gaza Strip, also triggering Israeli ire and alarm. Friday’s meeting between Erdogan and Meshaal came at a time that according to Turkish press reports, Ankara and Tel Aviv could hold final talks on concluding a reconciliation agreement on Sunday.
Israel and Turkey were traditionally close allies in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Close Ankara-Tel Aviv relations, however, soured following an Israeli attack on an aid ship that was attempting to break the Israeli naval blockade of the Gaza Strip.