Cementing a new alliance. “Hamas leader meets with ErdoÄŸan in surprise visit,” from Today’s Zaman, March 16 (thanks to Maxwell):
Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal paid a surprise visit to Ankara for talks on Palestinian reconciliation and the Middle East. Mashaal met with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip ErdoÄŸan on Friday afternoon.
The meeting reportedly focused mainly on Palestinian reconciliation. “There are positive developments regarding relations between Hamas and Fatah. We will assess these developments,” ErdoÄŸan told reporters, adding that regional issues will also be discussed. ErdoÄŸan’s meeting with Mashaal lasted two hours. Also present were Foreign Minister Ahmet DavutoÄŸlu and Justice and Development Party (AK Party) Deputy Chairman Ã–mer Ã‡elik.
Reconciliation efforts between the two main Palestinian political factions, Hamas and Fatah, are continuing. The last time the two groups came together for talks was in Cairo last December. They reached a key agreement at the time that saw Hamas admitted into the PLO, the umbrella organization of the Palestinian independence movement. The PLO has engaged in two decades of intermittent peace talks with Israel.
Mashaal’s visit followed a fresh bout of violence that erupted between Israel and Palestinian resistance groups. Last Thursday saw the end of a shaky truce brokered in Egypt in December after Israel attacked the Palestinians. Twenty-five Palestinians were killed in the four days of clashes that ensued.
Prior to the conflict, top Hamas officials sent controversial signals that they would not stay on the sidelines if Israel attacks Iran. On March 7, Iran’s Fars News Agency quoted Mahmoud Zahar, a senior Hamas official in Gaza, as saying that “retaliation with utmost power is the position of Hamas with regard to a Zionist war on Iran.”…