Turkey presses for Palestinian unity in talks with Abbas



Grandsons of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas (C) also attended his talks with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdo?an
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdo?an pressed for Palestinian unity in talks with President Mahmoud Abbas on Friday and promised to support Palestinian efforts for recognition by the UN as a sovereign state.
“We told President Abbas that we do not want brothers to shed each other’s blood,” Erdo?an said at a joint press conference with Abbas in Ankara.
Abbas arrived in Ankara on Tuesday and it emerged later that Khaled Mashaal, the leader of Hamas, landed in ?stanbul also on the same day. But Turkish officials said Mashaal had talks with Foreign Minister Ahmet Davuto?lu and had no contact with Abbas. Abbas stayed in Turkey for talks with Turkish leaders, while Mashaal left ?stanbul on Wednesday.
Abbas’ Fatah and Hamas agreed last month to end a four-year rift by forming a joint caretaker government to prepare for new elections. But efforts to form the unity government have stalled as the two sides have been unable to agree on a prime minister. Hamas opposes re-appointment of Western-backed Salam Fayyad as prime minister, saying Fayyad is too closely allied with the West, while Abbas says he wants Fayyad, a US-educated economist, to stay.

Abbas and Mashaal were previously expected to meet in Cairo, Egypt, on Tuesday to discuss composition of a new unity government but that meeting was postponed reportedly due to Hamas’ opposition to Fayyad.

In Ankara, Abbas also had talks with President Abdullah Gül. Foreign Minister Davuto?lu, who also attended the Thursday talks, said on Friday that Turkey was trying to remove differences between Palestinian groups regarding the appointment of a prime minister.

Davuto?lu, speaking to reporters, also said he had talks on phone with his Egyptian counterpart to discuss Palestinian unity earlier this week.

The establishment of a unity government is significant as Palestinian leaders have been campaigning to win UN recognition of a state that spans the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem, territories Israel captured in 1967. A resolution to that effect is expected to be brought to the UN agenda in September.

Israel and the United States have both objected to the idea of UN recognition.

However, Erdo?an reiterated Turkish support for Palestinian efforts for UN recognition as a sovereign state and called on the international community to support the Palestinian agreement to create a unity government. Asserting that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict must be resolved, he said a permanent solution would be achieved if a Palestinian state, with East Jerusalem being its capital, is established.

The prime minister said the Palestinian issue was as important for Turkey as an internal matter and promised support to help its resolution. Erdo?an also denounced an Israeli blockade of Hamas-run Gaza, saying it is “inhumane” and that Israel must immediately allow entry of construction materials into Gaza to pave the way for reconstruction of the coastal strip.

Abbas, for his part, thanked the Turkish government for “never leaving Palestinians alone” and its support for the Palestinian people’s efforts to reclaim their rights. He said he was confident that Turkey would also support the Palestinian drive for UN recognition.

Abbas added that the Palestinians were continuing their efforts to form a unity government and said such a government would be established soon, without elaborating.

Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat, who is accompanying Abbas on his trip to Turkey, told the Ma’an news agency that Turkey will help lobby UN countries to vote for an independent Palestine. According to the report, Turkey will also call on member countries to recognize Palestinian state during an upcoming Astana summit of foreign ministers of the Organization for the Islamic Conference (OIC).

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