PA President Mahmoud Abbas is scheduled to begin on Monday a three-day visit to Turkey at the invitation of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is also expected to visit Ankara a few days after Abbas.
The visits of the two leaders have sparked speculation that Erdogan is seeking to play the role of mediator between Israel and the Palestinians in an attempt to revive the stalled peace process.
The rapprochement between Turkey and the Palestinian Authority and Israel is seen as a blow to Hamas, some of whose leaders and activists have been based in the country over the past few years.
According to unconfirmed reports, the Turkish authorities have asked several Hamas representatives to leave the country, while imposing severe restrictions on the activities of others.
Earlier this year, Hamas spokesperson Hazem Qassem denied the reports and said there was no change in his group’s relations with Turkey as a result of Ankara’s rapprochement with Israel.
Last year, a number of Palestinian factions – including Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine – condemned President Isaac Herzog’s visit to Turkey. However, Hamas and PIJ stopped short of criticizing Erdogan and the Turkish government over the visit.
“President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will welcome the Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas and the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Turkey in the course of the same week,” the Turkish presidency said in a statement last week. “The leaders will discuss “Turkey-Palestine relations and the latest developments in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, as well as other topical international issues.”
The Palestinian ambassador to Turkey, Faed Mustafa, said the visit comes “within the framework of the regular political consultations that take place between the two countries in light of their historical ties.”
Mustafa told the PA’s official Voice of Palestine radio station that “this visit is of great importance at this sensitive and delicate phase of the Palestinian cause in wake of local, regional, and international developments and the Israeli aggression again at our people.”
Abbas visited Turkey last year, shortly after Erdogan’s decision to restore full diplomatic relations with Israel. During the visit, Erdogan assured Abbas that his decision to restore ties with Israel would not affect Turkey’s support for the Palestinians.
The Palestinian Boycott and Anti-Normalization Campaign expressed its “great shock” at Netanyahu’s invitation to Turkey and said it “comes in the midst of the heinous massacres committed by the occupation and its settlers against the Palestinian people.”
The group warned that the visit would grant the “extremist” Israeli government legitimacy. It called on the Turkish leadership to cancel the invitation, “which ignores the pain of the Palestinian people.”