ANKARA - Turkish President Abdullah Gül calls for unity among Palestinian groups Hamas and Fatah, adding that Turkey has no intention to intervene in Palestine's domestic affairs.
"The priority is to form a government of consensus in Palestine. This is the day to be in unity without blaming each other," President Abdullah Gül told reporters in a joint press conference with Abbas on Saturday. Gül also stated that Turkey had no intention to intervene in Palestine’s domestic affairs but added, "Hamas should not be isolated and should be represented both in the national government and the Palestine Liberation Organization, (or PLO)."
Turkey was strongly criticized for its obvious pro-Hamas stance during Israel’s deadly Gaza offensive last month. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan openly criticized Abbas for cooperating with Israel against Hamas. Erdoğan’s chief foreign policy adviser, Ahmet Davutoğlu, has constant relations with Hamas’ exiled leader, Khalid Meshal. Davutoğlu was actively involved in international efforts to provide a truce between Hamas and Israel. But Turkey’s one-sided policies caused strong reactions from Israel. In Davos, Erdoğan and Israeli President Shimon Peres quarreled over the Gaza offensive, which resulted in Erdoğan stalking off the stage.
Despite calls, Abbas rejected a Hamas call for a new body to represent the Palestinians, saying his PLO remains "the house of Palestinians." Several Palestinian nationalist groups, notably Abbas's own Fatah party, make up the PLO, but Hamas is not among them. "All organizations that wish to participate in the PLO must first accept its statutes," Abbas said. "Once a member of the PLO, a movement can always reform it from top to bottom if it holds a majority." "We are not asking Hamas to recognize Israel. We expect this from the new government," he stated.
Abbas said he hoped the important roles played by Turkey and Egypt in efforts to bring about a ceasefire in Gaza would yield positive results, as he departed Turkey yesterday. "Hamas is a part of the Palestinian nation. We will sit to table together with them. We are already sitting in Cairo. Hopefully, there will be a peace," he said.
Arab peace plan
Abbas, during a meeting with Parliament Speaker Köksal Toptan, said Israel has "no other choice" than to embrace the Arab Peace Initiative set out in 2002 if it wants to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The Arab Peace Initiative would see all Arab nations establish normal relations with Israel in return for an Israeli pullout from occupied lands and the creation of a Palestinian state with its capital in east Jerusalem.
Promoted by Saudi Arabia, the initiative was embraced by all Arab League member nations at a summit in Beirut in March 2002. Abbas said Turkey - which is not a league member - supported it.
More aid to Gaza
In the meantime, Abbas urged more humanitarian aid be urgently sent to Gaza, stating that aid shipments were meeting only one-fifth of actual need. "The Palestinian people suffered from the most ruthless and barbaric onslaught for three weeks," Abbas told reporters. "We want aid shipments to speedily reach the Palestinian people who are in dire need. So far, the shipments have met just 20 percent of actual need."
Gaza is especially needy in the wake of Israel's recent offensive, which left nearly 1,300 people dead, displaced thousands and caused widespread destruction. Even before the offensive, some 80 percent of the region's 1.4 million people relied on the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for food and other support.