Middle East peace will prove impossible without unity among Palestinian Authority Arab factions, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned Friday, suggesting Ankara could help reconcile the Fatah and Hamas parties.
"The process of unity between Fatah and Hamas, this has to be achieved," Erdogan was quoted by AFP as having told a Washington think tank during a visit to the United States.
"If this reconciliation is not achieved, then I don't believe that a solution or result will come out of the Israeli-Palestinian discussions," he added.
The Turkish prime minister also insisted that "Israel has to withdraw to the '67 borders" to mark the outlines of a future Palestinian state and demonstrate that it truly believes in a two-state solution.
"As long as Israel does not accept Palestine as a state, there is not much to talk about in terms of trying to achieve peace," he said, according to AFP, adding, "I hope that common sense prevails and this problem in the Middle East is resolved."
Erdogan revealed he had told Tony Blair, the special envoy for the Quartet of nations shepherding the talks, that "Hamas has to be around the table for peace to emerge in the Middle East."
The comments come a day after Erdogan met with U.S. President Barack Obama and confirmed that he plans to visit Hamas-controlled Gaza as well as Fatah-controlled Judea and Samaria.
The dual stops mean Erdogan would meet with the Hamas rulers of Gaza as well as with PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, likely in Ramallah.
"Turkey, I think there is a lot that we can do because we can talk to Hamas, we can talk to Fatah... We want them to get together, to agree to each other," Erdogan told the Brookings Institution, speaking through a translator.
If a reconciliation between the two Palestinian sides were reached "I think that the talks with Israel would be moving forward more swiftly," he added.
Washington on Thursday urged Erdogan to postpone any visit to Gaza, saying it would be a "distraction" from its efforts to revive the moribund Middle East peace process.
"As we've said consistently, we oppose engagement with Hamas, a foreign terrorist organization which remains a destabilizing force in Gaza and the region," State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters.
"We urge all parties who share our interest in the creation of a Palestinian state to take steps that promote the resumption of peace talks between the Palestinians and Israel."
Hamas and Fatah have been at odds since the terror group violently seized control of Gaza in 2007.
Washington has stood fast in its support of Abbas's Palestinian Authority as the legitimate representative of PA Arabs.
Fatah and Hamas signed a reconciliation deal in Cairo in 2011, pledging to set up an interim consensus government of independents that would pave the way for legislative and presidential elections within 12 months.
Implementation of the accord stalled over the make-up of the interim government, and a February 2012 deal signed by Abbas and Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal in Doha intended to overcome outstanding differences was opposed by Hamas members in Gaza.
(Arutz Sheva’s North American Desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)