Hamas Chief Holds Closed-Door Talks in Turkey

Hamas chief Khaled Mashaal visits Ankara for late night closed-talks with local leaders.

Ben Ariel ,

Khaled Mashaal
Khaled Mashaal
Flash 90

Hamas chief Khaled Mashaal held closed-door talks with Turkish leaders in Ankara late on Wednesday, officials said, according to AFP.

Mashaal, who often shows up at events hosted by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, the report said.

No statement was made to the press after the talks.

The Hamas-affiliated Al-Resalah newspaper reported that, while in Turkey, Mashaal would discuss the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip, the ceasefire and other political issues.

In a previous visit to Turkey in December, Mashaal praised Ankara as a "source of power" for all Muslims in gratitude to Turkey's leaders for supporting the "Palestinian cause".

Mashaal said a "strong Turkey means a strong Jerusalem, a strong Palestine," voicing hopes to "liberate Palestine and Jerusalem".

His brief address was interrupted repeatedly by cheering crowds in the hall waving Turkish and Palestinian flags and chanting: "Allahu Akbar (God is greatest)" and "Down with Israel!"

Mashaal’s latest visit came just weeks after Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon accused Turkey of hosting a senior member of the Islamist movement's exiled leadership who was actively planning attacks.

At the time, Ya’alon said that attempts to activate terrorist cells in Judea and Samaria originate in "Hamas headquarters in Gaza and Istanbul, from where Salah Aruri plans severe attacks against us.”

"Salah Aruri is acting from Turkey -- a NATO member, which at the same time allows a terror base on its territory," Ya’alon charged.

Israeli media subsequently reported that Turkey had bowed to the United States pressure and agreed to order Aruri to leave the country.

A Turkish official on Wednesday said that Aruri was not in Turkey.

"He is not in Turkey according to information I have," he told AFP, speaking on condition of anonymity.