PM Erdogan – is international front against Hamas crumbling?
Growing legitimacy: A Hamas delegation headed by group leader Khaled Mashaal arrived in Turkey Thursday in order to meet with official Turkish representatives.
The visit marks the first one by Hamas to a non-Arab country since the group won the Palestinian elections at the end of January. Meanwhile, an official invitation to visit Russia was received at Hamas' Gaza office.
Turkish government sources said the invitation to Hamas came from the ruling Islamic party in the country and not from the Foreign Ministry. At this time it is unclear whether Hamas members will meet with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan during the visit.
Israeli officials are concerned the Turkey visit will mark yet another setback in the crumbling of the international coalition against Hamas, a trend that started after Russia invited the group for a visit last week - a move supported by France.
Livni speaks with Turkish counterpart
Turkish clarifications stressing the government intends to make it clear Hamas must renounce terrorism and recognize Israel have not improved the mood in Israel.
Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul called his Israeli counterpart Tzipi Livni Wednesday and briefed her on the upcoming meeting with Hamas. Livni expressed Israel's objection to meetings with a terror group, but Gul assured her Turkey would send Hamas a clear message.
PM Erdogan recently said the international community must be prepared to cooperate with Hamas because the Palestinian people voted the group into office in an honest and democratic manner. At the same time, Turkey's position is that Hamas must renounce the path of violence, he said.
Israel and Turkey maintain a close alliance that includes, among other things, extensive military cooperation. However, in recent years Ankara made sure to maintain warm ties with the Palestinian authority as well.