Khaled Meshaal
Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan shakes hands with Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal [File]. (photo credit:YASIN BULBUL / TURKISH PRIME MINISTER OFFICE / AFP)


Hamas is closely following reports about rapprochement between Turkey and Israel and is waiting for an official word from Ankara on the issue.

On Saturday, Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal met in Istanbul with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The Turkish news agency Anadolu news agency said that Mashaal briefed Erdogan on the latest political developments in the region during the 60-minute meeting.

This was the first meeting between the two since recent reports about an agreement between Turkey and Israel to restore their normal ties.

The agency did not say whether the two also discussed the rapprochement between Turkey and Israel.

In an interview over the weekend, Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahar refused to comment on the reports, including the possibility that Turkey was planning to impose restrictions on Hamas activities in the country.

“Until now, the picture remains unclear,” Zahar said. “We will announce our position once we see an official Turkish announcement.”

Zahar claimed that the reports were thus far unverified and emanated from anonymous sources. “Therefore, we can’t relate to these reports,” he explained.

The Hamas leader noted that Israel and Turkey have maintained ties for a long period of time. He said these ties were never cut off in spite of the tensions between the two countries in recent years.

Turkey has also maintained close relations with Hamas over the past few years.

Turkey also plays host to some top Hamas operatives, including Salah Al-Arouri, one of the founders of the movement’s armed wing, Ezaddin Al-Qassam.

Another senior Hamas official, Ahmed Yusef, predicted that the rapprochement between Israel and Turkey would not have a negative impact on his movement.

“Policies among countries are based on interests,” Yusef said. “The normalization of relations between Turkey and Israel will not change Ankara’s position towards Hamas.”

The Hamas-affiliated website Al-Resalah quoted Turkish officials as saying that their country would not abandon its demand to lift the blockade on the Gaza Strip despite the rapprochement with Israel.

The officials claimed that Turkey was conditioning its renewed ties with Israel on two conditions: lifting the blockade on the Gaza Strip and payment of compensation for the families of the Turkish nationals who were killed aboard the flotilla aid ship, Marmara.

As reported by The Jerusalem Post