Skip to main content

Turkey dials up Gaza diplomacy as cease-fire talks hit 'impasse'

Ankara dials up Gaza diplomacy with Washington, Doha and Hamas, with the top Turkish diplomat describing the prospects of a cease-fire as dimming.
Antony J. Blinken, United States Secretary of State, shakes hands with the Turkish Minister of Foreign Affairs Hakan Fidan before posing for the official press photo on the first day of the NATO foreign ministers' meeting at the NATO headquarters on April 03, 2024, in Brussels, Belgium.

ANKARA — On Wednesday Turkey’s foreign minister, Hakan Fidan, discussed the situation in Gaza separately with his US and Qatari counterparts, Antony Blinken and Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, as well as with Hamas’ political head, Ismail Haniyeh, amid dimming hopes that an immediate cease-fire between Israel and Hamas is possible.

Fidan and Blinken discussed efforts to achieve an immediate cease-fire and the delivery of aid to Gaza during the call, according to the Turkish and US readouts of the calls. 

The pair “also discussed ongoing efforts to secure a durable and lasting peace in the region,” US State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said. 

The call comes as the Biden administration is reportedly in talks with a series of Arab countries for a potential postwar peacekeeping force in Gaza. Turkey has tabled an offer to play a guarantor role on behalf of Palestinians in a prospective postwar scenario.

Following the call with Blinken, Fidan also discussed “the latest in the cease-fire talks,” with Haniyeh, Turkey’s state-run Anadolu News Agency said, citing Turkish diplomatic sources.

Prior to Fidan, Ibrahim Kalin, the head of Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization, or MIT, also discussed the state of the cease-fire talks with Haniyeh and other Hamas officials in the Qatari capital, Doha, on Sunday, according to Anadolu.

The flurry of communications comes as hopes for an immediate cease-fire dim after last week's talks in Cairo failed and as Israel ramps up its attacks on Rafah. 

Speaking in the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv on Tuesday, Blinken expressed “deep concerns” over the consequences of Israel's initial operations in Rafah.

“Currently we are essentially where we were last week, in a state of impasse. No new formula is on the table,” Fidan later said in a live interview. “But parties [involved] are in the search for a new formula. . . . Particularly the US has to turn the heat on Israel,” he added.  

Turkey doesn’t consider Hamas a terrorist organization, with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan being an outspoken supporter of the militant group. Last month, Erdogan likened Hamas, which is considered a terrorist organization by the United States and the European Union, to early Turkish cadres that fought against occupying forces after the Ottoman Empire lost World War I, sparking domestic criticism. 

Pushing back against the criticism on Wednesday, Erdogan further upped the ante, claiming that Hamas was “the first line of defense” for his country, in a reference to a conspiracy theory that Israel is seeking to expand its borders northward from Syria and beyond, including some parts of Turkey’s southeast. 

“Do not think that Israel will stop in Gaza,” he said, addressing his party members at the parliament. Israel “will set its sights on Anatolia sooner or later,” he added.