prime minister in Gaza Ismail Haniyeh on Sunday received a warm welcome from Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan during an official meeting in Istanbul.
Palestinian media outlets reported that Haniyeh and Erdogan met in the prime minister's residence along with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu and other officials.
Palestinian sources said the meeting lasted two hours, during which the leaders agreed that a permanent solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict cannot be reached without involving Hamas in the negotiations.
According to reports, Haniyeh and Erdogan discussed the "The 'Jewfication' of Jerusalem, and the cruel attacks against its Arab residents."
Haniyeh (L) and Erdogan (R) in Istanbul on Sunday (Photo: AP)
Erdogan, who expressed support for reconciliationefforts between Hamas and Fatah,
spoke about "the necessary steps to preserve the holy sites for Muslims and Christians," and expressed hope that the Palestinians will have "an umbrella organization that will offer significant and democratic representation to all political groups."
During the meeting, the two also discussed the blockade imposed on the Gaza Strip, and the May2010 IDF raid
on the flotilla that aimed to break it.
Haniyeh thanked Erdogan for his firm stance on the Palestinian issue, praising him for demonstrating "solidarity with the residents of the Gaza Strip during Operation Cast Lead."
The Hamas prime minister departed on his first official visit outside of Gaza since 2007 last week. He left the Strip through Rafah Crossing and is expected to also visit Egypt,
Sudan, Qatar, Tunisia and Bahrain.