Gaza Working on Regional Ties with High-Level Meetings

Hamas officials are in the midst of meetings with key regional leaders, including a surprise visit between Hamas’ political chief Khaled Mashaal and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Tuesday. According to the Hurriyet Daily News, the two leaders discussed Palestinian reconciliation, which has yet to make substantial progress despite more than a year of high-level talks. Hamas and political rival Fatah have split Palestinian control since violent fighting between the groups in 2007.

Mashaal is making the regional rounds: Hurriyet noted he met with new Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi last week. Gaza-leading Hamas is considered a terrorist organization by the United States and refuses to recognize Israel or renounce violence.

Hurriyet said the meeting between Mashaal and Erdoğan was not on the Turkish leader’s official schedule and lasted 3-5 hours. Foreign policy officials joined the meeting, including Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu.

Another Turkish news group, Today’s Zaman, implied the discussion may have included talks on the Syrian civil war. A number of Palestinian groups still reside in Syria. Mashaal had previously been headquartered there before Hamas opposed the Bashar al-Assad regime over its vicious crackdown on civilians.

As for Egypt, Hamas official Dr. Salah Al-Bardawil was quoted by the Hamas military wing website as saying their meetings in the country were intended for “activating the Egyptian historic role in defending the Palestinian cause.”

Bardawil, whose comments were originally published by Quds Press, said opening the crossing between Egypt and Gaza and trade ties are key ways for restoring the “Egyptian role” in Palestinian affairs.

For almost two decades prior to 1967, Egypt controlled Gaza. Morsi’s relationship with the Muslim Brotherhood is yet another link between the two locales: the Brotherhood are organizationally related to Hamas, with historical and ideological ties.

(By Joshua Spurlock,, July 25, 2012)