Hamas boss welcomes Turkey rapprochement with Egypt

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said he backed Turkey’s diplomatic efforts to improve ties with Egypt and other countries in the region.

“Turkey’s rapprochement with Egypt, Iran and Saudi Arabia would effect the Islamic world and the Palestinian cause positively,” Haniyeh said in an interview with Turkish television channel Habertürk, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported on Monday.

Hamas, the Islamist militant group governing the blockaded Palestinian territory of Gaza, is designated as a terrorist organisation by Israel, the United States and several European countries. It is backed by NATO member Turkey, which is accused of providing funds and citizenship to top Hamas officials. 

The organisation maintains an Istanbul office. Israel has said a thaw in relations with Turkey would only be possible if it shut down the facility.

In August, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan hosted two Hamas leaders in Istanbul, a meeting that sparked condemnation from the United States.

Elections in Palestine should be held as soon as possible, Haniyeh said, commenting on a decision by President Mahmoud Abbas to postpone polls planned for May 22.

Even if Hamas wins the election, the group will form a joint government, Haniyeh said.

“First and foremost, we want to liberate the occupied lands,” he said.

A ceasefire between Israel and Hamas came into effect early on Friday, ending 11 days of bombardments and violence that killed more than 250 people, the overwhelming majority of them in Gaza.

From the beginning of the conflict, Erdoğan was among the harshest critics of Israel’s treatment of Palestinian protestors in East Jerusalem and the bombing of buildings in the Gaza Strip. He has labelled Israel as a terrorist state.





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