(AFP) — Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday pushed back against mounting US pressure to cut Ankara’s historic ties with Hamas in the wake of the militants’ unprecedented attacks on Israel.
The US Treasury’s top terrorism financing official conveyed Washington’s “profound” alarm about the Ankara’s past relations with Hamas during a visit to Turkey this week.
Under Secretary Brian Nelson said Washington has not detected any money passing through Turkey to Hamas since the Gaza war broke out eight weeks ago.
But he argued that Ankara had helped Hamas access funding in the past and should now use local laws to clamp down on potential future transfers of funds.
Erdogan said on Saturday that Washington was well aware that Turkey does not view Hamas as a terrorist organisation.
“First of all, Hamas is a reality of Palestine, it is a political party there and it entered the elections as a political party and won,” he said in remarks released by his office.
“We form our foreign policy in Ankara and design it only according to Turkey’s interests and the expectations of our people,” Erdogan said.
“I am sure that our interlocutors appreciate Turkey’s consistent and balanced foreign policy steps in such humanitarian crises and conflicts.”
Who wants to tell him? https://t.co/YkDD8AjEb1
— Breitbart News (@BreitbartNews) October 25, 2023
Israel on Friday resumed punishing air strikes after the sides failed to extend a seven-day truce that had seen 80 Israeli hostages released in exchange for 240 Palestinian prisoners.
Hamas fighters killed about 1,200 people — mostly civilians — and took around 240 Israelis and foreigners hostage after breaking through the militarised border into southern Israel on October 7.
The Hamas authorities who run Gaza say Israel’s retaliatory air and ground campaign has killed more than 15,000 people — also mostly civilians.
Erdogan has been one of the Muslim world’s most vocal critics of Israel’s unprecedented military operation in Gaza.
He recalled Ankara’s envoy to Tel Aviv and demanded that Israel’s military commanders and political leaders be put on trial for “war crimes”.
Hamas political leaders used Istanbul as one of their foreign bases during Erdogan’s two-decade rule.
Turkish media have reported that they relocated to Qatar after Ankara voiced displeasure with social media images purporting to show Hamas officials celebrating the October 7 attacks.