Turkey’s relations with Gaza’s Hamas leadership have grown closer with a visit by the Palestinian territory’s prime minister Ismail Haniyeh.
In Istanbul he toured the ship on which nine Turkish activists were shot dead by Israeli commandos trying to prevent an aid flotilla from reaching Gaza. The Israelis feared it was transporting arms.
Haniyeh also spoke of the upheaval in the Arab world. He told reporters: “The unfolding events known as the Arab Spring — we may even call them the spring of Islam — will be in favour of the Palestinian cause. We will see their positive effects better in the future.”
Haniyeh expressed his thanks to Turkey for its continued support for Palestinians. He had earlier met 11 former Palestinian prisoners who were flown to Turkey as part of an exchange for the captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shallit.
Turkey’s once strong relations with Israel were severely damaged by the flotilla killings and Haniyeh’s visit is likely to undermine them further.
The Gaza leader is on a trip of several Arab states in the region.