Hamas PM Praises Mavi Marmara ‘Martyrs’: ‘Arab Spring is turning to Islamic Spring’
Ismail Haniya, prime minister of the Palestinian administration in the Gaza Strip, continued his tour of Turkey, where on Monday he visited the aid flotilla Mavi Marmara, a Turkish vessel that tried in 2010 to break the Gaza blockade.
On Sunday Mr. Haniya met with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan for more than two hours, and he later dined with Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu.
Spokesmen for the prime minister and the foreign ministry didn’t give details of the meetings, but Mr. Haniya thanked Mr. Erdogan and Turkey for “continuous support” for Palestinians, in an interview with Turkish news channel NTV on Monday.
A brief official news statement was made by the ruling AK Party’s deputy chairman, Omer Celik, who called the Palestinian cause Turkey’s “national cause,” and urged everyone to acknowledge the “contribution of Hamas to the peace process.”
In an interview with state-run Anadolu news agency, Mr. Haniya also praised Turkey’s role in the prisoner swap deal between Israel and Hamas two months ago, after meeting with some of the released Palestinian prisoners who were brought to Turkey.
Turkey supports Hamas reconciliation with rival Fatah, which rules the West Bank and is led by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, and in the interview with NTV, Mr. Haniya promised a united administration for Palestinians in elections to be held this year.
“We are trying to prepare appropriate environment for elections,” Mr. Haniya said.
In May, Hamas and Fatah appeared to end a long rivalry by signing a reconciliation agreement, but not much progress has happened since.
Mr. Haniya’s tour is his first outside the blockaded Palestinian territory since Islamist Hamas took over Gaza in 2007, aiming at improving ties with the Muslim world after the so-called Arab spring.
“Arab Spring is turning to Islamic Spring,” Mr. Haniya said in an interview with Anadolu.