Turkey wants better relations with Israel? Stop harboring Hamas, cabinet minister says

Turkish leader rebuffed over his ties to Hamas terrorists after saying he wants to improve ties with Israel.

By Paul Shindman, World Israel News

A senior Israeli cabinet minister said Monday that Turkey must reduce its support for Hamas and stop encouraging its terrorist activities in order to improve relations between the two countries, the Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper reported.

Following remarks over the weekend by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that he was interested in improving ties with Israel, the cabinet minister, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Turkey’s close ties to the Hamas terror group were an impediment.

“Turkey’s relations with Hamas challenges the improvement of political relations between both countries, even though economic relations between them are flourishing and security ties are good,” the minister told the Saudi-owned paper that is based in London.

On Friday, Erdogan told reporters he would “like to bring our ties to a better point,” but said that Israel’s policy towards the Palestinians were blocking him.

“It is impossible for us to accept Israel’s Palestine policies. Their merciless acts there are unacceptable,” Erdogan said.

Erdogan has maintained a war of words with Israel since the Gaza flotilla incident in 2010 in which a Turkish-flagged ship attempted to break the blockade of Gaza and Turkish passengers attacked Israeli soldiers who boarded the ship.

Nine Turkish activists with ties to a radical Islamic group were killed in the incident and Turkey subsequently reduced diplomatic relations that were only restored in 2016.

In August, Erdogan threatened to close the United Arab Emirates embassy in Ankara and suspend diplomatic relations with UAE after it announced it would normalize relations with Israel.

In October, the Turkish leader gave a speech in parliament in which he said “Jerusalem is our city, a city from us,” referring to the Ottoman Empire that pre-dated Turkey and was defeated in World War I, losing an empire that included control of the eastern Mediterranean region.

Most troubling to Israel is Erdogan’s close relationship with the Hamas terror group and his granting of permission for Hamas to operate on Turkish soil. Erdogan has hosted Hamas leaders several times and earlier this year it was revealed that Turkey has been issuing citizenship and Turkish passports to senior Hamas terrorists – giving them freedom of movement throughout Europe and other countries.

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Israel’s charge d’affaires in Turkey, Roey Gilad, posted a picture in August of Erdogan meeting with the Hamas leadership, one of whom was Hamas deputy leader Saleh al-Arouri.

“U.S. has designated him a senior terrorist and has a $5m bounty on his head, but Erdogan hosts him openly,” Gilad tweeted.