PA Chairman Abbas
PA Chairman Abbas Israel news photo: Flash 90

Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas is visiting Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to ask for help to promote unity with Hamas terrorists after U.S. President Barack Obama called Erdogan to push the ”peace process.”

Abbas’ visit coincides with a belated “mazal tov” congratulatory letter from Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to Erdogan on his re-election last week.

The letter may have been prompted by President Obama. U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told reporters Tuesday, “It would be a good thing if Israeli-Turkish relations improved, and certainly we’ve encouraged both sides to work to that goal.”

Asked if the United States is participating in talks between Israel and Turkey, she answered, “I can only say that we talk to Turkey, we talk to Israel about improving their relationship, and it will be a very good thing if they’re talking to each other.”

Erdogan has exacerbated the rift with Israel by openly supporting Hamas as a “peace partner” and rejecting the idea that it is a terrorist organization, despite its being listed as such by the United States.

PA officials said Abbas is visiting primarily because of the cancellation of a planned meeting between him and Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal in Cairo. Abbas heads the rival Fatah movement, which disagrees with Hamas over who should be the next prime minister of the Palestinian Authority.

Hamas opposes the re-appointment of Salam Fayyad, whom it considers to be a lackey for the United States. The unity agreement that Fatah and Hamas signed in Cairo last month calls for independent leaders to head a government that is supposed to hold legislative and presidential elections.

Mashaal also arrived in the country on Tuesday for separate talks with Turkish leaders and left on Wednesday without meetring Abbas, according to the Chinese news agency Xinhua.

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