A conference aimed at rounding up the support of the Palestinian diaspora for issues of statehood, right of return and the status of Jerusalem convened in Istanbul on Saturday. In a statement issued by the conference organizers, it was explained that the purpose of the parley was to activate the diaspora to assist in those areas. The invitation list numbered 1,000 with some fifty nations represented. No indication of the attendance was available. But according to the Ma’an news agency, the event was viewed skeptically by the Fatah movement and its parent organization, the PLO. So it was not surprising that the conference was praised by a spokesman for Hamas although Hamas also denied it was behind the effort. Ma’an quoted Fatah spokesman Usama Al-Qawasmeh as calling it “a free service to the Israeli occupation…and a step showing Hamas continues to expand (political) divisions.” Responding to the criticism, Hamas Politburo member Izzat Al-Rashq denied that Hamas was behind the conference.
Egyptian Coptic Christians unload their belongings from a truck as they arrive to take refuge at the Evangelical Church in the Suez Canal city of Ismailiya on February 24, 2017. (Photo: STRINGER/AFP/Getty Images)