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Is Turkey uniquely positioned to mediate between Palestinians and Israel?

Is Turkey uniquely positioned to mediate between Palestinians and Israel?

The war on Gaza has seen Turkey step forward as a potential mediator to not only end Israel’s bombardment of the Palestinian enclave, but also bring lasting peace to one of the world’s most intractable conflicts.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has led his country’s bid, keen to promote Turkey as a global player and replicate Ankara’s success in mediating between Ukraine and its invader, Russia, to strike a deal for Kyiv to export grain.

Ties to both sides

Turkey has relations with Hamas, making it one of the few countries with any influence with the group that has ruled Gaza since 2007.

Ankara did not declare Hamas a “terrorist organisation”, leading Tel Aviv to protest that Turkey-based Hamas members have been involved in planning attacks on Israel.

“Turkey has a good communication channel with Hamas, which is an important asset,” Taha Ozhan, research director at the Ankara Institute, said. “It has been built up over 17 years, when Turkey was the only country to invite Hamas into [its capital].

“In these times of crisis, the communication channels and relations are important,” said Ozhan, a former chair of the Turkish parliament’s foreign affairs committee.

Turkish officials – led by Erdogan and his foreign minister, Hakan Fidan – have acted on this advantage, seeing a central role for Ankara in resolving the latest Gaza conflict.

Their immediate focus has been on getting humanitarian aid to civilians in Gaza and seeking the release of some 200 hostages taken by Hamas.

Speaking in Beirut on Tuesday, Fidan said “a variety of countries” had asked Turkey for help in releasing their citizens.

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