December 22, 2015 As agreed upon Hamas’ senior representative in Istanbul, Saleh al-Arouri, was expelled from Turkey Monday. Nevertheless, there remain a number of points which can stall and even torpedo normalizing diplomatic ties.
Israel established al-Arouri’s expulsion from the country as a condition for achieving full reconciliation between Ankara and Jerusalem. Al-Arouri’s ‘voluntary’ departure was agreed upon during the meeting between Hamas’ political chief, Khaled Mashal and Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu – last Saturday.
Nevertheless, Erdogan clarified to close associates that he had no intention of closing Hamas’ offices in Turkey and would not stop his financial and moral support of Hamas, as Israel requested. Moreover, Turkey is adamant regarding its request that Israel remove the blockade of the Gaza Strip, and Israel refuses to do this. Turkish officials claim that Israel agreed to lighten the blockade, but Israel denies this.
A secret meeting was reported on last Thursday between the soon-to-be Mossad chief Yossi Cohen, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s envoy in the contacts with Turkey, Joseph Ciechanover and Turkish under-foreign minister Feridun Sinirlioglu in Zurich.
The Prime Minister’s Office announced that at the meeting it was agreed upon that Turkey’s ambassador would return to Tel Aviv and Israel’s envoy would return to Ankara. Moreover, Israel agreed to establish a compensation fund for those killed in the Mavi Marmara incident, and in return Turkey will renounce any and all claims regarding it.
It was also agreed upon that al-Arouri would be expelled from Turkey and that talks about laying a gas pipeline between Israel and Turkey would soon begin.
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The GMBDW reported in September that the US Treasury Department had designated as terrorists Hamas operative Saleh al-Arouri, three other Hamas officials, and a Saudi Arabia-based company controlled by one of the group. Our other reporting on al-Arouri has included:
- In July, we reported that Israeli security officials announced that they had broken up a Hamas cell in the West Bank that was in the planning stateless of a major terror attack and that was run by Saleh al-Arouri, the Turkey-based head of Hamas operations in the West Bank.
- In November 2014, the GMBDW reported that that Israel had arrested dozens of members of a Hamas terror network said to be funded and directed by Hamas officials in Turkey.
- In August 2014, the GMBDW was the first to report that that Salah al-Arouri, a Hamas military leader residing in Turkey, had admitted that the Hamas military wing was responsible for the kidnapping, an event which sparked the recent round of the Gaza conflict. Subsequent Israeli media reports say that Salah al-Aruri (aka Saleh al-Arouri), who is based in Turkey, was also the mastermind behind what has been described as a Hamas coup attempt in the West Bank that was intended to end the rule of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and spark a third intifada. False claims that the Israeli police had exculpated Hamas in connection with the crime were for a time a staple on websites linked to a or sympathetic to Hamas and/or the Muslim Brotherhood.
Earlier today we posted an analysis of the developments regarding a potential Turkish-Israeli rapprochement titled “Israel Moves to “Normalize” Turkish Relations- What Are They Thinking?”