Palestine summit bid for Istanbul

by editor | 8th April 2011 7:08 am

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Thursday, April 7, 2011 SEV?L KÜÇÜKKO?UM ANKARA – Hürriyet Daily News As a self-declared regional mediator, Turkey is hoping to mediate between feuding Palestinian factions Fatah and Hamas in the hopes of securing a unity government ahead of possible Palestinian statehood in September. ‘It is positive that both sides want national reconciliation secured as soon as possible,’ FM Davuto?lu says
 Palestinian demonstrators take part in a protest calling for Palestinian political unity between Gaza's Hamas rulers and the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority.
Palestinian demonstrators take part in a protest calling for Palestinian political unity between Gaza’s Hamas rulers and the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority.

Turkey has proposed that the leaders of Palestinian groups Hamas and Fatah hold a meeting in Istanbul to resolve their differences and form a unity government.
“Turkish President Abdullah Gül had a phone conversation with Palestinian Administration President Mahmoud Abbas last week and also sent the Turkish ambassador in Jerusalem to talk with Abbas on Saturday about the issue of a meeting,” a senior diplomat told the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review Thursday on the condition of anonymity.
A similar proposal was dispatched to Hamas political bureau leader Khaleed Meshaal by Foreign Minister Ahmet Davuto?lu in Syria late Wednesday.
Meshaal had not categorically dismissed the possibility of making contact with Fatah, a Turkish diplomat told the Daily News on Thursday.
Turkey’s foreign minister used the Meshaal meeting to test the waters for a new Palestinian reconciliation initiative.
The secularist Fatah, which controls the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, has proposed elections and the establishment of a transitional unity government formed of technocrats instead of politicians from the two factions. The Islamist Hamas, meanwhile, controls the Gaza Strip.

Turkey’s initiative emerged following Abbas’ call on March 16 to hold elections with Hamas so as to set up a unity government with a six-month mandate ahead of a plan to ask the Unite Nations in September for official recognition of a Palestinian state based on the pre-1967 borders.

Davuto?lu had a phone conversation with Abbas during a conference in London last week as part of the reconciliation efforts.

Gül has also discussed meeting the two Palestinian leaders.

Abbas did not want to restart all the negotiation process again with the argument that parties have been negotiating for four years and could not reach an agreement, a senior diplomat told the Daily News. Abbas proposed going directly to elections without any negotiations, the diplomat said, adding that Hamas had not officially responded to the proposal.

Davuto?lu proposed holding elections for the Palestine Liberation Organization, or PLO, and Legislative Council and postpone the presidential elections, but Abbas refused to separate them and insisted on holding all the elections simultaneously, the diplomat said.

Elaborating on what could be the next move for the reconciliation process, the source said if Abbas can see suitable ground, then he wants to visit the Gaza Strip to begin talks with the Islamist government about the conditions of reconciliation. The source added that such a meeting could lead to a breakthrough.

“It is positive that both sides want to secure national reconciliation as soon as possible. Mr. Abbas is giving priority to setting up the government, while Mr. Meshaal attaches importance to implementing all elements of reconciliation. We have the impression that a common ground could be found,” Turkish Foreign Minister Davuto?lu told reporters on late Wednesday.

Abbas is looking for a partner to accompany him during his visit to Gaza, he said, adding that the partner could be any figure form Arab world, for instance someone from the Arab League.

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict should not be neglected when a wave of change is crashing through the Middle East because this is one of the conflicts at the core of the change and many other problems, Davuto?lu said. “A possible crisis in Palestine would cause greater instability in the region,” he added.

Positive steps on the Palestinian dispute would also affect the wave of changes in a positive manner, he said.

The minister said Israel’s recent operations in the Gaza Strip “have posed a great risk.”

Davuto?lu said Turkey and Egypt were not rivals, but complementary on this issue.

Ankara welcomes GCC mediation for Yemen

The Foreign Ministry on Wednesday welcomed and supported a proposal from the Gulf Cooperation Council, GCC, for mediation between the administration of Yemen and opposing groups.

“We expect Yemen’s administration to show respect to fundamental rights and freedoms of demonstrators who have been expressing their expectations and demands through peaceful means,” the ministry said in a statement on Wednesday.

“We also expect the administration to take all necessary measures soon to halt attacks on civilian people. We wish Yemen’s future to be determined within the scope of a comprehensive national dialogue process that would be carried out with the participation of all segments of the society,” it said.

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