Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas arrives in Turkey to improve relations

Three-day visit comes less than a week after Ankara restored full diplomatic ties with Israel

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, right, and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Istanbul last year. AFP
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Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas arrived in Ankara on Monday for a three-day visit to enhance relations with Turkey, Palestine's state news agency Wafa said.

Mr Abbas's visit comes at the request of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Palestine’s ambassador to Turkey Faed Mustafa said.

“The two leaders will discuss issues of mutual concern and ways to improve Palestinian-Turkish relations, in addition to the latest political developments in Palestine and other regional and international issues,” Mr Mustafa said.

The leaders will also hold talks “on the latest developments surrounding the Palestinian issue and hold consultations on a number of regional and international topics”, he said.

Mr Abbas was received at the airport by Turkish officials, Arab ambassadors accredited to Turkey and Palestinian embassy staff in Ankara, said officials.

He was accompanied by Minister of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates Riad Al Malki, Head of the General Intelligence Service Maj Gen Majid Faraj, adviser to the President on religious affairs and Islamic relations Mahmoud Al Habbash, diplomatic adviser to the President Majdi Al Khaldi and Mr Mustafa.

Ties between Turkey and the Palestinian leadership were established in 1975 and Ankara has been a strong supporter of the Palestinian cause in its conflict with Israel, as well as the Middle East peace process.

Since 1995, Turkey has provided about $300 million in assistance to Palestine, the Turkish Foreign Ministry said.

The visit comes after Turkey announced last week that it would restore full diplomatic ties with Israel and reinstate its ambassador, following steady progress in relations.

“It was decided to once again upgrade the level of the relations between the two countries to that of full diplomatic ties and to return ambassadors and consuls general from the two countries,” said the office of Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid.

“The resumption of relations is an important asset for regional stability and very important economic news for the citizens of Israel. We will continue to strengthen Israel's standing in the world.”

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said the two countries would reappoint their ambassadors.

“The steps we would take to normalise relations includes mutually reappointing of ambassadors. At the news conference we held with Lapid in this hall, we made a statement that we started the work on the appointment of ambassadors,” Mr Cavusoglu said.

Concern over Israel-Turkey relations

While Palestinian officials are concerned about the development of relations between Israel and Turkey, the Palestinian Authority has not commented.

In May, Mr Abbas hosted Mr Cavusoglu in Ramallah during a rare visit.

Mr Cavusoglu, who was on a two-day visit to the occupied West Bank and Israel, held meetings with officials from both sides. It was the first trip to the region by a Turkish foreign minister in 15 years.

Reports said Mr Erdogan had pushed his government to mend ties with Israel.

In Ramallah, Mr Cavusoglu said Turkey’s relationship with Israel would not affect its position on the Palestinian cause.

“Our co-ordination with the Palestinian side is a separate matter than our relationship with Israel. Our policy towards the Palestinians will not change,” Mr Cavusoglu said.

Updated: August 22, 2022, 5:26 PM