Middle East

Meshaal, Erdogan discuss Palestinian unity bid

Meshaal, right, faces opposition from Hamas’ leaders in Gaza.

ANKARA: Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan met Hamas chief Khaled Meshaal in Ankara Firday to discuss reconciliation efforts between rival Palestinian factions.

Erdogan said in a statement earlier Friday he would be discussing developments concerning Palestinian unity with Hamas’ top leader in exile.

Reconciliation efforts between Hamas – shunned by the West as a terror group – and Fatah continue, but they 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.

Meshaal also faces internal opposition from Hamas leaders in Gaza who are reluctant to hand over authority to Abbas, who would serve as the prime minister of any interim government.

The head of the Hamas government in Gaza, Ismail Haniyeh, was received with enthusiasm during a visit to Turkey in early January, as part of his first-time regional tour.

In recent months, divisions have opened between Meshaal and members of the group’s Gaza leadership.

Meshaal has presented an increasingly moderate position, saying last May that he was ready to give negotiations with Israel “a chance,” and offering tacit support for the establishment of a Palestinian state alongside Israel, which has put him at odds with much of the leadership in Gaza.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on March 17, 2012, on page 8.




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