Turkey says it would mediate between Hamas and Fatah

Country's top envoy for Middle East says reconciliation would be basis for lasting solution to Gaza conflict.

Davutoglu 248.88 ap (photo credit: AP [file])
Davutoglu 248.88 ap
(photo credit: AP [file])
Turkey's top envoy for the Middle East offered Monday to mediate between divided Palestinian factions to forge a consensus necessary to a lasting cease-fire in Gaza. Ahmet Davutoglu told reporters that reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah would be the basis for a lasting solution to the conflict in the Gaza Strip. "Palestinian reconciliation is a must in order for peace to be lasting," Davutoglu said. "If that is achieved, then the road to peace will be opened." Fatah and Hamas have been unable to come up with a power-sharing formula since Hamas won 2006 parliament elections. Any mediation effort will have to create a way for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, of Fatah, and Hamas to work together closely. The first challenge would arise on monitoring border crossings - should Israel and Egypt lift the blockade imposed on Gaza after Hamas seized the coastal strip in June 2007. The two factions would also have to work together in overseeing reconstruction projects. Working out such understandings could take time. In the interim, Turkey favors a temporary arrangement in which Israel withdraws troops from Gaza, opens borders and lifts the blockade. "In order for the cease-fire to last we must ensure that Israel withdraws its troops. As long as they remain inside, there can be provocations at any minute," Davutoglu said. "Until we achieve reconciliation between Palestinians we need some temporary arrangements." Abbas aide, Nabil Abu Rdeineh, politely brushed off Turkish offers for mediation, saying that this would be the role of regional power Egypt. "We are still ready for national reconciliation through Egyptian mediation," Abu Rdeineh said by telephone. Abu Rdeineh said Abbas' efforts were focused on cementing a sustainable cease-fire. Later, Abbas intends to begin forming a "consensus government" and prepare for new Palestinian elections, he said. Davutoglu was speaking in Istanbul following two weeks of intensive shuttle diplomacy between Cairo and Syria, where he negotiated with Hamas officials in Damascus. He said Turkey was instrumental in getting Hamas to declare a cease-fire on Sunday. "If there was a two-sided cease-fire, it was because of Turkey," he said. Meanwhile, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan sharply criticized Israel's military actions in Gaza while attending a forum at the European Policy Center, a think-tank in Belgium. Erdogan said his country did not intend to send any armed peacekeepers to Gaza, but would send monitors to the border with Egypt. "One cannot approve or consider legitimate any military intervention against civilians," a visibly animated Erdogan told the forum. "It is impossible to tolerate such actions against civilians." Erdogan's remarks came after a senior Hamas spokesman, Sami Abu Zuhri, said the Islamic terror group would "regard any armed force in Gaza as invading force," but that it would accept monitors.