Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, right, shakes hands with Hamas leader Khaled Mashal, left. AP file photo.
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region - As Turkey and Israel move towards normalizing diplomatic ties, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan met with Khaled Meshaal, the leader of the Palestinian Hamas movement.
Their meeting lasted an hour, and Reuters quoted a source from the Turkish president’s office as saying that Meshaal “briefed Erdogan on the latest developments in the region.”
There were no other details about the discussion, such as whether they discussed the potential Israel-Turkey rapprochement.
Israel has long been wary of Turkey's hosting of the group and wants Hamas' activities in Turkey to be curbed.
Among other high-ranking Hamas members, Turkey hosts Saleh al-Arouri, a prominent Hamas leader and the founding commander of the group’s military wing.
From Turkey he boasted, in August 2014, that Hamas was responsible for the murder of Israeli teenagers in the West Bank. Israel believes him to have a hand in recent violence and terrorist attacks against Israelis in the West Bank.
Regarding an imminent Turkey-Israel diplomatic rapprochement, the Jerusalem Post quoted Mahmoud Zahar of the Hamas leadership as saying that, “The picture remains unclear.” He added that his group will announce its position on the matter once its leaders “see an official Turkish announcement.”
Ahmed Yusuf, another senior Hamas official, said he is fairly certain that any full restoration of Turkish-Israeli relations will not affect the friendly relationship Hamas has with Turkey,
“Policies among countries are based on interests,” he reasoned, “The normalization of relations between Turkey and Israel will not change Ankara’s position towards Hamas.”