MIDDLE EAST

Palestine’s Turkey envoy talks reconciliation, peace process

PALESTINE’S TURKEY ENVOY TALKS RECONCILIATION, PEACE PROCESS

In an exclusive interview with Anadolu Agency, Palestinian ambassador to Turkey Faed Mustafa speaks about inter-Palestinian reconciliation, Turkey's role in healing the Palestinian rift and U.S. efforts to revive the moribund peace process.

Hopes have been running high for healing a decade-long Palestinian split after Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, announced last month that it was dissolving a body seen as a rival government in Gaza and that it was ready to hold election.

The two rival movements have been at odds since Hamas wrested control of the Gaza Strip from Fatah following bloody infighting.

Hamas's capture of Gaza in 2007 ended an earlier -- if short-lived -- unity government that was established after Hamas swept the 2006 Palestinian legislative polls.

Last week, Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah made a landmark 3-day visit to the blockaded Gaza Strip and held a cabinet meeting for the first time since his government was formed in 2014.

Q: How do you evaluate Hamas-Fatah talks for reaching national consensus?

A: There is no doubt that the latest developments in the reconciliation issue have been very positive and aroused hopes that the black page of the Palestinian internal division would be turned. There is nothing greater than achieving national unity among different Palestinian factions in the land of Palestine, which makes us look forward to the upcoming future with high hopes, despite the difficult challenges facing us in our confrontation with the Israeli occupation.
Additionally, achieving Palestinian reconciliation would help us solve problems of our people in Gaza as such power cuts, the blockade and closure of crossings. This will be a top priority for the Palestinian unity government.

Q: The Palestinian general election has not been held since 2006. What are now the possibilities of holding the polls after the Hamas-Fatah agreement and is there any timetable for the vote in the near future?

A: The issue of election has always been proposed as a means to end the internal division since it is a constitutional and legal right. In the context of the recent developments, Fatah and Hamas agreed to hold presidential and parliamentary elections, and they got support on that by all Palestinian factions. The date of the polls, however, has yet to be decided since it shall be agreed during the meetings set to be held in Cairo next week between Fatah, Hamas and all Palestinian factions.

The road is now paved and atmosphere is favorable. It would be a very important move when we return back to the Palestinian people to choose their leadership and to renew the Palestinian legitimacy.

Q: How do you evaluate Turkey's efforts to achieve national consensus in Palestine?

A: Turkey is a friend of Palestine and we are proud of this friendship. Turkey has very good relations with all Palestinian factions and has made continuous efforts to end the Palestinian division and has always encouraged the various Palestinian parties to achieve the Palestinian reconciliation. Turkey had hosted dozens of seminars, conferences and meetings on its soil with a view to advancing the Palestinian reconciliation and this was one of the most prominent issues discussed during a recent visit by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to Turkey and his talks with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan last August.

Therefore, we highly value Turkey's role and we are very thankful to the Turkish leadership and people for all their efforts to achieve the Palestinian reconciliation. We are sure that the good news regarding ending the Palestinian rift has been received with a great satisfaction in Turkey at both the official and public levels.

Q: How to you see the impact of the Palestinian national consensus on the Palestinian-Israeli peace process?

A: Our ultimate goal has always been to achieve the dream of our people in freedom and independence and in establishing an independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital. To achieve this goal, our people have fought and are still engaged in diverse forms of armed fight, peaceful resistance and political struggle. Additionally, we have managed to achieve many political gains.

There is no doubt that the recent developments regarding the Palestinian reconciliation and the end of the internal division would effectively strengthen the Palestinian position. When we, the Palestinians, confront the Israeli occupation while we are united, our position and our ability to strike the required balance will be stronger and our influence will help shorten the life of the occupation.

Q: How do you evaluate the new U.S. initiative for achieving peace between Israel and Palestine?

A: Since U.S. President Donald Trump came to power, his administration appeared to be interested in the Palestinian cause and in finding a solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict. Trump's administration also voiced more than once its intention to make a continuous effort to accomplish what they called "the deal of the century".

We [Palestinian leadership] expressed our readiness to cooperate closely with the American administration to make this suggested solution accomplished. Based on this, delegations from both sides [U.S. and Palestinian] met at different levels more than twenty times, including three meetings between Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Trump.

We cannot say that the features of the American administration's next move have become clear, hence, during the recent meetings with the American side, they asked for additional time and we currently wait. We hope to hear practical steps that would lead to what they talked about in terms of a political solution that should be consistent with the rights of our people as determined by the international legitimacy resolutions.

Achieving the Palestinian reconciliation should be, as well, a helping dynamic for achieving a political solution. This is what the international parties should use positively to put pressure on Israel, which has always used the Palestinian division as a pretext to evade the political and peace process.

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