Hamas leader Haniyeh to visit Turkey this weekend: Erdogan

Erdogan did not say where he would meet the Hamas political leader, but NTV reported that they would talk at the Dolmabahce Palace, Istanbul.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Wednesday he will host the leader of Palestinian militant group Hamas, Ismail Haniyeh, in Turkey this weekend.

“The leader of the Palestinian cause will be my guest this weekend,” Erdogan, an outspoken critic of Israel’s conflict in Gaza, told lawmakers.

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“Even if only I, Tayyip Erdogan, remain, I will continue as long as God gives me my life, to defend the Palestinian struggle and to be the voice of the oppressed Palestinian people,” the president said, calling Hamas a “resistance group”.

Erdogan did not say where he would meet the Hamas political leader, but NTV television reported that they would hold talks on Saturday at the Dolmabahce Palace in Istanbul.

Their last meeting was in July 2023 when Erdogan hosted Haniyeh and Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas at the presidential palace in Ankara.

But Haniyeh met Turkey’s Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan in Turkey on January 2, the government said.

Erdogan has been one of the strongest critics of Israel since the start of the Gaza war, sparked by the militant group’s attack on Israel on October 7, 2023.

The attack claimed 1,170 lives, mostly civilians, according to Israeli figures. Hamas also seized hostages, many of whom are believed to be still in Gaza.

Israel has responded with a ground and air offensive that the health ministry in Hamas-run Gaza said has killed at least 33,899 people, mostly women and children.

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Qatar, a mediator between Israel and Hamas, acknowledged Wednesday that negotiations to cease hostilities in Gaza and liberate hostages were “stalling”.

The Turkish leader has forged friendly ties with Haniyeh, who is based in Qatar.

Last week, Erdogan offered Haniyeh, 62, condolences for the death of his three sons and some of his grandchildren in an Israeli strike in Gaza.

Erdogan has called Israel a “terrorist state” and accused it of conducting a “genocide” in Gaza. He has called Hamas “liberators” or “mujahideen” fighting for their land.

© Agence France-Presse

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