Palestinian Authority chief Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas terror master Ismail Haniyeh held a joint meeting in Ankara on Wednesday with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
Abbas and Haniyeh met together with Erdoğan behind closed doors, according to the Turkish leader’s office.
Palestinian media said the talks aimed to forge unity between Abbas’s Fatah faction, which predominately rules in Palestinian-controlled areas of Judea and Samaria, and the Gaza Strip-based terrorist group.
Erdoğan said that ongoing divisions among the Palestinian leadership were playing into the hands of those “who want to undermine peace.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was set to travel to Turkey on July 28, in the first visit to Ankara by an Israeli premier since 2008. However, the trip was postponed after he underwent surgery to implant a cardiac pacemaker.
On Thursday, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant spoke with his Turkish counterpart Yaşar Güler.
They discussed security cooperation and agreed to strengthen communication on defense matters, according to Gallant’s office.
Since violently seizing control of the Gaza Strip from the P.A. in 2007, Hamas and Fatah have been locked in a Palestinian version of a cold war. The P.A.—with the quiet support of Israel, the U.S. and other allies—has worked to root out any attempts by Hamas to undermine or overthrow its control in the disputed territories of Judea and Samaria.
At the same time, Hamas, which has survived a maritime blockade, international isolation, multiple wars with Israel and pressure from other Islamic terrorist groups in Gaza, has continued to see itself as the sole leader of the Palestinian cause with the goal of destroying Israel.
There have been numerous attempts at reconciliation by the Palestinian factions, most notably in 2014, when they formed a unity government that soon unraveled amid disputes over governance.
Polling has shown that a majority of Palestinians would vote for Hamas over Abbas’s Fatah party if elections were held.
Representatives of Fatah and Hamas are slated to hold a two-day meeting in Cairo this weekend along with 12 other Palestinian factions, although Islamic Jihad had threatened not to attend unless the P.A. releases some of its members.