Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan continues to support Hamas. Photo/Reuters
ANKARA – Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday (2/2/2023) rejected pressure from the United States to sever Ankara’s historic ties with Hamas after an unprecedented attack by Hamas fighters against Israel.
The top terrorism financing official at the US Treasury Department expressed Washington’s “deep” concerns about Ankara’s past ties with Hamas during a visit to Turkey this week.
Deputy Minister Brian Nelson said Washington had 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 limit potential future transfers of funds.
Erdogan said on Saturday that Washington was well aware that Turkey did not view Hamas as a terrorist organization.
“First of all, Hamas is the reality of Palestine, they are a political party there and they contested elections as a political party and won,” he said in remarks released by his office.
“We shape our foreign policy in Ankara and design it based only on Turkey’s interests and the hopes of our people,” Erdogan said.
“I am sure our interlocutors appreciate Turkey’s consistent and balanced foreign policy steps in these humanitarian crises and conflicts.”
Israel on Friday launched air strikes again after the two sides failed to extend a seven-day ceasefire that had seen 80 Israeli hostages released in exchange for 240 Palestinian prisoners.
Hamas fighters killed around 1,200 people – mostly civilians – and took around 240 Israelis and foreigners hostage, Israeli officials said, after breaking through the military border into southern Israel on October 7.