The leader of the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas, which the U.S. has designated a terrorist group, endorsed the president and prime minister of Turkey, a NATO member, according to various media reports.
Khaled Mashaal, Hamas’ political bureau chief, made a surprise appearance last month at an event given by Turkey’s ruling party and endorsed Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, Hurriyet Daily News reported.
Mashaal voiced his hope that both Hamas and Turkey will “liberate Palestine and Jerusalem” in the future.
“A strong Turkey means a strong Palestine. … Inshallah, God is with us and with you on the road to victory,” Mashaal said in his address to the Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) annual congress in the Konya province on December 27, according to the article.
The Hamas leader was introduced to the audience by the Turkish PM.
“Mashaal’s brief speech was interrupted by slogans, including ‘God is great’ and ‘Down with Israel’ several times by AKP supporters in the sports hall who waved Turkish and Palestinian flags,” noted Hurriyet Daily News.
Turkey is a NATO member that is considered a key U.S. ally.
The Israeli government recently said that Qatar has expelled Mashaal to Turkey, according to Haaretz. Hamas officials have denied that allegation.
The Associated Press reported that Turkey would welcome the Hamas chief. However, on Wednesday, Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said that “there was no formal request from Hamas political bureau chief Khaled Mashaal to travel to Turkey and that he had no information on any plans for him to come.”
“Turkey has forged close ties to Hamas,” noted the AP.
Hamas was recently removed from the European Union’s list of terror groups, but Israel, the United States, and several other countries still designate it as a terrorist organization.