02 Dec 2023, 17:45

Erdogan rejects US pressure to cut Hamas ties

ISTANBUL, Dec 2, 2023 (BSS/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 

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 

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."

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.