The US State Department censured Recep Tayyip Erdoğan for hosting a delegation of Hamas leaders in Istanbul over the weekend.
Erdogan met with Hamas political bureau head Ismail Haniyeh as well as Hamas commander Saleh al-Arouri, founder of the Hamas military wing, Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, and designated by the US as a terrorist with a $5 million bounty on his head.
Also at the meeting was the head of Hamas’ foreign branch Maher Salah, who is based in Qatar, as well as Hamas’s representative in Turkey, Jihad Yaghmour, who was involved in the abduction of IDF soldier Nachson Wachman in 1994. Yaghmour was subsequently sentenced to a prison sentence of 30 years but was deported to Turkey in the Gilad Shalit prisoner exchange deal in 2011.
Hamas spoke to Erdogan about the “Palestinian cause,” complained about the Israeli plan to annex parts of Yehudah and Shomron and said the terror group is working against the “Judaization of Jerusalem’” by Israel, according to a Ynet report.
Hamas, Turkey and Iran have all expressed their opposition to the Israel-UAE deal.
Although Turkey, whose regime has strong roots in the Muslim Brotherhood, actively supports Hamas, which is designated by the US as a terror organization, it is also an ally of the US and maintains shaky diplomatic relations with Israel.
Turkey, which was once more closely allied with Israel, has engaged in hostile rhetoric against Israel in the past decade under Erdogan’s rule. Mossad head Yossi Cohen has reportedly said in recent years that “while Iranian power is tenuous, the real threat is from Turkey.”
(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)