Hamas, Turkey FM talks on immediate cease-fire

Hamas political bureau chief Ismail Haniyeh was in Türkiye on Saturday and met Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan, diplomatic sources said Sunday. It was the first official contact between the leader of the Palestinian resistance group and Türkiye’s top diplomat for more than three months under the shadow of the renewed Palestine-Israel conflict.

The conflict naturally was on the agenda of their meeting. Sources said Fidan and Haniyeh discussed the release of the remaining captives Hamas held and the possibility of an immediate cease-fire. The sources said that during the meeting, the two sides also discussed “increasing humanitarian aid … and a two-state solution for a permanent peace.”

Fidan and Haniyeh last had official contact in a phone call on Oct. 16.

Israel has vowed to destroy Hamas in the new round of the conflict.

Its relentless bombardment and ground offensive have killed more than 25,000 people in Gaza, mostly women and children, according to the Health Ministry of Gaza. Israel says around 132 hostages remain in Gaza, of whom at least 27 are believed to have been killed, according to an Agence-France Presse (AFP) tally based on Israeli figures.

Istanbul served as a base for Hamas political leaders before the Oct. 7 conflict. Haniyeh himself has been a frequent visitor to the country.

Türkiye was about to take steps to normalize relations with Israel but backtracked after Tel Aviv launched its renewed violence against Palestinians following Hamas’ Oct. 7 attacks. A chief supporter of Hamas, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan remains firm in his support of the Palestinian cause and unlike most Western leaders, describes Hamas as a resistance group defending the Palestinian territories.

Ankara seeks to mediate efforts for a humanitarian pause to the conflict and permanent peace in the long run. Türkiye’s policy is a two-state solution to the conflict, which includes Israel’s recognition of a fully independent and sovereign Palestinian state based on the 1967 borders, before Israel advanced its illegal settlement policies, capturing more and more Palestinian lands.

Fidan himself is at the forefront of Türkiye’s efforts for a solution to the conflict. He is part of a delegation of foreign ministers from the Arab League and Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) countries formed to address the issue and took part in the delegation’s visits to countries from Norway to the United States for diplomatic efforts to that extent.

The Fidan-Haniyeh meeting came one day after Erdoğan stepped up his criticism of the Israeli administration. Erdoğan described Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as the “Führer of the present-day” and lamented the international community “watching only in the face of barbaric acts of Netanyahu and his crew amounting to genocide against the Palestinian people.”