Ahead of normalization with Israel, Turkey’s Erdogan meets Hamas leader

by WorldTribune Staff, June 26, 2016

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan met with Hamas leader Khaled Masha’al on June 24 reportedly to ease tensions amid Turkey’s announcement that it will normalize ties with Israel.

Erdogan met with Masha’al in Istanbul to discuss “ways to resolve the disagreements among Palestinians as well as Turkish humanitarian assistance,” according to the Turkish Anadolu news agency.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, right, with Hamas leader Khaled Masha'al. /AA photo
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, right, with Hamas leader Khaled Masha’al. /AA photo

Sources also said the Erdogan-Masha’al meeting came at a time when rumors suggest that Masha’al, currently in exile in Qatar, is searching for another place to live.

Diplomatic officials confirmed to Arutz Sheva on June 23 that Israeli cabinet ministers will be asked to approve the reconciliation agreement between Israel and Turkey during a meeting next week.

The agreement to normalize ties reportedly includes some concessions on Turkey’s part with regards to the Israeli naval blockade on the Gaza Strip. Turkey had initially made the lifting of the blockade a key issue in reconciliation talks.

Turkey cut ties to Israel after the 2010 Mavi Marmara incident. The main ship of a Turkish flotilla trying to breach Israel’s naval blockade was found not to be carrying humanitarian goods despite its claims, refused orders to turn around and forced IDF soldiers to board it where they were attacked and wounded by Islamists armed with knives and metal bars. The soldiers were forced to open fire to defend themselves, killing ten.

Under pressure from U.S. President Barack Obama, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu apologized to Turkey over the incident, and last December Israel reportedly agreed to pay $20 million in compensation to the families of the Islamists.

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