Turkey intends to demand free access to the Gaza Strip as part of a reconciliation deal with Israel, a senior Turkish source said on Saturday. The demand to end what Turkey calls "the blockade of Gaza" is sure to be a major sticking point in talks between the distrustful nations.
The senior Turkish official, who spoke with the Hurriyet newspaper, said Turkey wants access so that it can provide any aid necessary to the Palestinians living there. "Turkey is committed to reject any limitations on Turkish aid to Gaza," said the source.
The official further said that Hamas looks kindly upon talks between Israel and Turkey, despite the Israeli condition of exiling senior member Saleh al-Arouri from Ankara. That said, the official also claimed that news of al-Arouri's forced departure was incorrect information leaked to test public opinion. It was reported earlier this week that al-Arouri had departed Turkey months ago.
The source added that Hamas is waiting impatiently for Turkish aid. According to him, the visit to Turkey by Hamas political leader Khaled Mashal was unrelated to the talks with Israel, but certainly helped show the world that Hamas is part of the solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The official told Hurriyet that the breakdown in Israeli-Turkish relations could have been solved in 2013 after Israel apologized for the Marmara incident, but two elements caused Israel to balk. The first was the violent demonstrations against the Turkish government in 2013 and investigations of senior government officials. The official speculated that Israel believed Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's ruling AKP party's collapse was imminent.
A second issue, said the official, was the revolution in Egypt that led to the rise of current President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. The source claimed Israel saw al-Sisi as a stronger and more important ally and preferred to focus on relations with Egypt.
The reelection of the AKP in November allegedly caused Israel to change its mind and renew the push for reconciliation with Turkey.