Mahmud Abbas seeks Turkey’s support amid escalating tension with Israel

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The president of the Palestinian National Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, visited Turkey on Tuesday, where he met with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in an attempt to reinforce Turkish support for his cause. The visit of Abbas coincides with one of the most tense episodes in the last decade between Israel and Palestine, with the first drone attack in the last 17 years or the military incursions in Jenin, which have caused thousands of displaced persons and the death of 12 Palestinians. It is also the first official visit since Erdogan he won the presidency again in the elections last May and both leaders have reiterated the good health of bilateral relations between the two countries. Their ties are maintained despite the diplomatic rapprochement between Türkiye e Israel started last year. “The Palestinian question does not have enough interest on the international agenda, starting with the UN,” the Turkish president criticized during the press conference of both leaders in Ankara. Abbas, for his part, has also criticized the “international silence” of the latest Israeli attacks on Palestinian territory, including the military incursion into beat it.

Erdogan has reiterated his support for the two-state solution and warned about the possibility of Israel changing the the status quo of religious centers such as the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem. In recent months the most conservative Israeli press has asked the government to change the status of the religious center so that Jewish visitors can visit all the holy places in the temple and pray in it. Non-Muslims are currently allowed to visit the compound, but only followers of Islam are allowed to pray in the mosque. For the moment, the israeli government He has denied any intention to change the dynamics of the temple, however, the debate is constant in the Israeli press and in that of Muslim countries. “Historic places cannot be converted, reconciliation and unity are the most important elements,” Erdogan said.

During the meeting, Abbas took the opportunity to reiterate his invitation to a rapprochement between the “leaders of the Palestinian factions” after the Israeli military operation in Jenin. The Palestinian leader has spent weeks trying to gather efforts – sponsored by Egypt– to achieve a rapprochement between the Palestinian factions to create a common front against Israel. The meeting will be held at Cairo next Sunday July 30. “We call on the leaders of the Palestinian factions to hold a meeting to restore the national unity of Palestine and face all the problems of the Palestinian people”, he pointed out at the press conference. The leaders of various Palestinian factions, such as the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), have welcomed the invitation to attend the conference. However, other factions such as Hamas or the armed group Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) have even called for a boycott of the meeting and have accused Abbas of arresting several of its members before this appointment. After several scuffles, Hamas has finally announced its assistance.

This week the visit of the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, who canceled his trip two days ago due to health problems, was also scheduled. It was the first visit to Turkey by an Israeli prime minister in more than a decade. Both countries had strengthened their diplomatic relations after years of tensions that began in 2010, with the deadly assault on a Turkish ship by Israeli commandos. In 2018, Turkey withdrew its ambassador to Israel and expelled his Israeli counterpart in Ankara after Israeli forces killed 60 Palestinians in Gaza in a protest. The economic ties between the two countries did not cease despite diplomatic tensions and have increased to more than 5,000 million dollars annually.

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