ISTANBUL , (AFP)— Gaza’s Hamas prime minister Ismail Haniya will Monday meet the head of an Islamic aid group whose Gaza-bound vessel was stormed by Israeli troops in 2010 in a raid that left nine activists dead.
Haniya, who is making his first trip abroad since Hamas rose to power in Gaza in 2007, will tour the Turkish passenger ship Mavi Marmara and meet relatives of the victims.
Turkey’s ties with Israel, a one-time ally, deteriorated over the flotilla raid on the Turkish-registered ship. Turkey demands an apology and compensation for the victims in order to restore ties with Israel.
On Sunday, Haniya met Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan whose government insists that peace cannot be achieved in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict if Hamas is excluded from the process.
Ankara has sought to mediate in efforts to reconcile Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas’s Fatah faction and Hamas despite Israeli ire over its contacts with the Islamist movement ruling the Gaza Strip.
Hamas and Fatah signed a reconciliation deal in May after years of bitter and often deadly rivalry, but its implementation has since stalled.
Since 2007, the Palestinian territories have been politically divided into two separate territories, with Abbas’s Fatah largely ruling the West Bank and Hamas governing Gaza.