Turkey looking to replace Egypt in Palestinian matchmaking - analyst

A meeting by top officials from Palestine’s Hamas and Fatah in Istanbul earlier this year, has signalled a possible sidelining of Egypt in playing match-maker between the rival factions, regional affairs expert Zvi Bar'el wrote in Israeli newspaper Haaretz on Wednesday.

A high-level delegation of Palestinian officials met in Istanbul in Sept. to sign a cooperation agreement between the enclave’s two main factions, Fatah and Hamas, which have been at loggerheads for the last 13 years.

The officials termed the meeting a "breakthrough,"Bar’el wrote, noting that the agreements in principle were reached for elections to take place over the course of six months for the purpose of forming a national unity government that includes all factions.

But the move was not welcomed by Turkey’s regional rival Egypt.

In fact, Cairo has yet to approve the next meeting Egypt was slated to host, Bar’el wrote, citing a Palestinian Authority official, who said the North African country was not with satisfied with playing host to the factions alone.

Bar'el, reminding that the Rafah crossing, which provides the Gaza Strip's only access to Egypt, has been closed since March, notes that even though officially, this is in order to stop the spread of the coronavirus, Egypt has also likely kept the crossing closed as part of its sanctions on Hamas for daring to take independent political action.

According to Bar'el, since Israel and the UAE signed their peace deal and ditched the Arab Peace Initiative which normalizes relations with Israel without guaranteeing Israel withdrawing, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas tried to open negotiations with Hamas with the help of other countries, including Turkey, which sparked outrage in Cairo.