Turkey’s foreign minister said Turkey declined a request by Israel to deport Hamas members, according to reports, amid fears that Ankara’s rapprochement with Israel will suffer after the electoral victory of former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Mevlut Cavusoglu reportedly said last week that Turkey did not accede to a request that it deport members of Hamas, made last month by Israel’s outgoing Defense Minister Benny Gantz during a visit to Ankara.
“We did not meet a demand regarding Hamas. We do not see Hamas as a terrorist organization,” said Cavusoglu, according to the Turkish news outlet Sozcu.
Omer Özkizilcik, a foreign policy and security analyst based in Ankara, told The Media Line that Turkey is hoping to become a mediator between Israel and the Palestinians, and believes deporting Hamas members could jeopardize that.
“We remember that, before Turkish-Israeli relations broke down, Turkey was an honest broker between the Palestinian side and the Israeli side, and I think Turkey is looking forward to re-establishing that,” he said.