Turkish FM reiterates support for Hamas in message to Israel

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Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu

Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu stated that Turkey’s cutting ties with Hamas cannot be set as condition for normalizing relations with Israel, adding that Hamas is essential for permanent peace in Israel.

Speaking at a joint press conference in Ankara with Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (KKTC) Foreign Minister Tahsin Ertuğruloğlu, Çavuşoğlu said “Our conditions for [normalizing] relations with Israel are pretty simple. They were not met. Our relation with Hamas is not a secret. Our warnings to Hamas leaders are not secret, as well. In present day, Israel also accepts that there could be no permanent peace without Hamas. Our support for Hamas will continue in terms of unity to be established in Palestine. [Cutting off ties with] Hamas is not and cannot be a condition for our relations with Israel to be normalized.”

Turkey’s relations with Israel were dealt a major blow in May 2010, when a Turkish flotilla named Mavi Marmara that was meant to deliver humanitarian aid to Gaza was raided by Israeli forces in international waters. Israeli soldiers killed 10 activists aboard the flotilla. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who was the prime minister at the time, had set three conditions for normalization of ties; official apology, compensation for victims’ families and lifting of the Israeli blockade on Gaza.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had apologized in an official phone call, while the issues relating to compensation are still being discussed. However, Israel does not seem to be planning to remove the Gaza blockade in the near future. Israel is also demanding that court trials pertaining to the Mavi Marmara against the country be dropped.

In addition, Israel is insistent that Turkey should end the activities of Hamas, which is claimed to have offices in the country. Erdoğan’s spokesman İbrahim Kalın had previously refused the claims. Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal met with Erdoğan and then-Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu in 2015. Also Hamas’ Saleh al-Arouri left Turkey in 2015 due to intensive American and Israeli pressure.

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