Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh will visit Turkey this weekend: Erdogan

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Ismail Haniyeh, leader of the Palestinian militia group Hamas, will travel to Turkey at the weekend to hold talks with President Tayyip Erdogan, while Ankara’s top diplomat met the Hamas leader during a visit to Doha on Wednesday.

Turkey, a NATO member, has denounced Israel’s offensive in Gaza and called for an immediate ceasefire. Erdogan has called Hamas a “liberation movement” while slamming the West for what he calls their unconditional support of Israel. Ankara has imposed trade restrictions on Israel.

“I will host the leader of the Palestinian cause at the weekend. We will discuss a number of issues,” Erdogan told lawmakers from his AK Party in parliament.

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Haniyeh’s visit to Istanbul will be his first trip to Turkey since Israel began its campaign in Gaza on Oct. 7. It also comes amid escalating regional tensions, after Iran attacked Israel at the weekend in response to an Israeli strike on the Iranian embassy compound in Damascus on April 1.

Erdogan said on Tuesday that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other Israeli leaders were solely responsible for the regional crisis.

In Doha, Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan met Haniyeh to discuss humanitarian aid to Gaza, ceasefire efforts and talks on hostages. Hamas said in a statement it had conveyed its views on the ceasefire negotiations and its requirements, while reviewing “the importance and centrality of the Turkish role”.

Speaking later at a press conference alongside Qatari Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, Fidan said the risk of a wider regional conflict persisted amid the Iran-Israel tensions, adding that countries which supported Israel should revise their positions.

Two-state solution

He added that unity among Palestinians was needed to achieve a sovereign Palestinian state and two-state solution, and that he had conveyed Turkey’s position regarding a ceasefire in Gaza during his nearly 3-hour meeting with Haniyeh.

“We see that many actors in the West who are sympathetic to this, who want to support this idea (two-state solution) have concerns about Hamas,” Fidan said, adding that Israeli “propaganda” portraying Hamas as a terrorist group had exacerbated concerns about the group in the West.

“We exchanged views on their (Hamas’) need to openly share what sort of views, what sort of expectations they have within the solution leading to a Palestinian state to alleviate these perceptions.”

Fidan said Hamas had previously vowed to shut down its armed wing if a Palestinian state in line with 1967 borders were established, adding the group would then continue only as a political party. He said this was repeated to him during his talks on Wednesday.

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