Monday, 16 May 2022 - 15 of Iyyar, 5782

Amid improved ties with Israel, Turkey has requested several active members of Hamas to leave the country

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Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, who is expected to visit Israel soon, said recently that Israel and Turkey have common interests and that Turkey is “ready to develop bilateral cooperation and regional dialogue through a positive agenda.”

 

Turkey has requested several active members of Hamas to leave Turkey amid Ankara’s current efforts to restore its relations with Israel, Israel Hayom reported citing a Palestinian official.

“Dozens of people identified with Hamas in various circles have been deported from Turkey,” the source told the Israeli daily, adding that some of the members have ties to the terror organization’s military wing.

The information was confirmed by Lebanese newspaper Al-Akhbar on Tuesday, reporting that Hamas members traveling outside of Turkey were not allowed to come back.

There was nothing “random” about the decision, the official said.

“Turkey asked them to leave, and it actually happened in the last few months. Some of the people with ties to Hamas’s military wing have been deported,” he added.

Israel was behind the development, the official claimed.

“The Israelis gave Turkey a list of Hamas members and information about the involvement of some of them in ‘military’ [terrorist]activity. In response, the Turks contacted Hamas and told them, ‘You promised you wouldn’t do anything like that here, so now you need to leave,’” he said.

Turkey had told the Hamas leadership that “economic interests” were at play, the official added. However, he continued, “Hamas knows that Israel has influence over Turkey when it comes to security issues. A few Israeli security representatives have also visited Turkey.”

Improving Turkey-Israel ties as part of a broader trend

Turkey has for years been a strident critic of Israel’s policies toward the Palestinians and Jerusalem accused  Ankara of being a key haven for the Hamas terror group.. Though ties were strained for years earlier, diplomatic relations between the sides were not officially downgraded until after the 2010 Mavi Marmara raid, in which 10 Turkish nationals on a ship attempting to break the naval blockade around Gaza were killed in a clash with Israeli troops who boarded their vessel.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, who is expected to visit Israel soon, said recently that Israel and Turkey have common interests and that Turkey is “ready to develop bilateral cooperation and regional dialogue through a positive agenda.”

He pointed out the potential for cooperation in energy, trade, investment, science and technology, agriculture and food security.

“There is a new momentum in our relations at this moment,” the foreign minister said, pointing at President Isaac Herzog’s visit to Turkey last March and the November phone call between Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

In the last several months, Erdogan has regularly spoken about his desire for a closer relationship.

In a November phone call with Herzog after intervening to free an Israeli couple arrested in Turkey as suspected spies, Erdogan stressed that he views ties with Israel as important to his country and “of key importance to the peace, stability, and security of the Middle East.”

Turkey’s public interest in improving ties with Israel is part of a broader trend, in which Ankara has sought to mend ties with regional rivals, including the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and European countries.

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