The Gazan prime minister will travel in the near future to Turkey, Bahrain, Qatar and Tunisia, four nations that have invited Haniyeh for a visit, the Associated Press news agency reported, citing Yusef Rizka, political advisor to the prime minister. No date was specified by Rizka, and Turkish officials were not available for immediate comment on the plans.
Abbas arrived in the central Anatolian province of Konya on Monday to meet Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, who was in the city to attend an EU review meeting and participate in Mevlana commemorations. Abbas is scheduled to move on to Ankara with Davutoğlu to meet his counterpart Abdullah Gül and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in separate sessions to be held on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Although Abbas pays frequent visits to Turkey, it will be the first time Haniyeh has left Gaza since the Hamas movement seized power in Gaza, as the leader was busy in the region for both foreign and domestic reasons, the AP added.
Back in June, Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal visited Turkey to have talks with Davutoğlu, with whom he discussed stalled efforts to create a Palestinian unity government. Mashaal's visit was unannounced and coincided with a visit from Abbas, who was in Turkey around the same days to meet with Turkish officials. Turkish officials said no meeting between Abbas and Mashaal was planned by Turkey, but the country is a known supporter of unity between Hamas and Abbas' Fatah officials, both of whom are engaged in a common bid to announce a sovereign Palestine. Unification attempts were stalled when the sides failed to agree on a prime minister.
Turkey strongly supports the international recognition of a sovereign Palestinian state, support that will be reaffirmed in Turkish officials' meeting with Abbas, a statement released on Monday by the Presidential Press Center said. Abbas and Turkish officials will be discussing recent developments regarding the region during the meetings, it also noted. Officials from Fatah and Hamas occasionally meet in other countries, including Turkey to work out an agreement to form a unified rule, but negotiations in the past broke down when the officials were not able to come up with common terms and steps.
While Fatah is considered a legitimate administration leading the Palestinian Authority, Hamas is recognized as a terrorist organization by European countries and Israel, which says Hamas launches deadly rocket attacks from within Gaza, targeting Israeli soldiers and civilians.