Turkey’s support of Hamas worries PA

‘We want blockade lifted, but Hamas must end Gaza coup.’

Abbas-Erdogan 311 (photo credit: Associated Press)
Abbas-Erdogan 311
(photo credit: Associated Press)
The Palestinian Authority is concerned about Turkey’s increased support for Hamas, a PA official in Ramallah said on Monday.
The official said that the PA leadership was “unhappy” with Turkey’s policy toward Hamas, especially with regard to pressure to lift the blockade on the Gaza Strip unconditionally.
“Turkey’s policy is emboldening Hamas and undermining the Palestinian Authority,” the official told The Jerusalem Post.
“Of course we want to see the blockade lifted, but Hamas must also end its coup in the Gaza Strip and accept an Egyptian proposal for achieving reconciliation with Fatah.”
PA concerned about opening of the Rafah border
The PA is also concerned the reopening of the Rafah border crossing to Sinai would enable Hamas to tighten its grip on the Strip.
“We wish to remind the Turkish and Egyptian governments that the border crossing was controlled by the Palestinian Authority before Hamas launched its coup in 2007,” the official added. “If the Rafah border crossing is going to be reopened, that should be done in coordination with us and not with Hamas.”
Azzam al-Ahmed, a top Fatah official in the West Bank, was quoted over the weekend as saying that he was opposed to the lifting of the blockade on the Gaza Strip until Hamas agreed to end the dispute with his faction.
Ahmed stressed that there was no humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip because the PA government was sending aid through Israeli border crossings.
Abbas visits Erdogan in Istanbul
PA President Mahmoud Abbas, who visited Istanbul on Monday, was said to have relayed to Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan his concern over the rapprochement between Turkey and Hamas, the official revealed.
Erdogan, according to the official, offered to mediate between the PA and Hamas -an offer that Abbas accepted.
Erdogan declared that ending the power struggle between the rival Palestinian parties “is a must.” He claimed that Hamas had also welcomed a mediation role for Turkey.
Erdogan was speaking to reporters during a joint press conference with Syrian President Bashar Assad, who was also visiting Turkey.
“Divisions should not continue under the current circumstances,” Erdogan said. “I believe we can make peace between Hamas and Fatah.”
Hamas: PA depriving residents of the Gaza Strip of passports
Meanwhile, the Hamas government accused the PA of depriving residents of the Gaza Strip of passports. The government said the ban had been in effect since July 2008, effectively preventing tens of thousands of Palestinians from being able to travel abroad.
“The Fatah government in Ramallah does not care about the suffering of the people in the Gaza Strip, who are already under siege,” a spokesman for the Hamas-controlled Ministry of Interior said. “Every citizen is entitled to a passport, and no one has the right to deprive people of getting passports for whatever reason.”
Palestinian passports are normally printed in the West Bank. Hamas said the PA was refusing, for “security reasons,” to send thousands of passports to residents of the Gaza Strip who needed to travel.
According to the Hamas government, many Palestinian academics and “respected” figures have been denied passports by the PA government for the same reason.