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As Qatar’s frustrations grow, can Turkey lead Gaza diplomacy between Hamas, Israel?

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has always kept the long game in mind in his approach to Gaza and Hamas.
Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh (L) and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan salute the lawmakers of Erdogan's Justice and Development Party at the parliament in Ankara, Jan. 3, 2012.

ANKARA — The visit to Turkey on Saturday by Hamas political leader Ismail Haniyeh is turning the international spotlight on Ankara’s ties with the armed Palestinian group. It is ultimately the hope of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to reconcile Hamas and the rival Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) to strengthen the Palestinians' hand in regional and international politics while also expanding Turkey's geopolitical profile.

Haniyeh and a delegation of Hamas leaders met with Erdogan in Istanbul, where they had been expected to discuss the war in Gaza, the humanitarian situation in the besieged Palestinian enclave and the military escalation between Iran and Israel.

In the lead up to the April 20 visit, Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan held a three-hour meeting with Haniyeh on Wednesday in Doha. Speaking to the press afterward alongside Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, who sat in on discussions, Fidan said Hamas' leaders had reassured him that they would accept a two-state solution with Israel, based on the 1967 borders. Once such a resolution is achieved, he added, Hamas will disband its armed wing and continue as a political party.

Haniyeh’s Istanbul visit took place as Erdogan ramps up his advocacy for Hamas in response to criticism by Turkish opposition parties that his government has not done enough to support the Palestinian cause amid the ongoing Israel-Hamas war. 

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