Turkey criticizes US terror designation for Hamas chief
ANKARA – Agence France-Presse
Turkey on Feb. 2 denounced the United States decision to put the head of Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas on its terror blacklist, saying it hoped the move would not have a negative impact on Ankara’s humanitarian aid to Gaza.
The U.S. State Department on Jan. 31 also slapped sanctions on Ismail Haniya, who was named head of Hamas in May 2017.
“We are concerned that this decision of the U.S. administration, which disregards the realities on the ground, could undermine the Middle East peace process, including the efforts for intra-Palestinian peace and reconciliation,” Hami Aksoy, the Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman, said in a statement.
The moves comes as Hamas, which has controlled the Gaza Strip for more than a decade, has reached a fragile reconciliation deal with Fatah, the movement of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
“We also hope that the decision will not have a negative impact on our country’s humanitarian assistance and economic development activities towards Gaza.”
Aksoy said the move overlooked the fact that Hamas is “an important reality of Palestinian political life.”
Haniya is now on the U.S. Treasury sanctions blacklist, which freezes any U.S.-based assets he may have and bans any U.S. person or company from doing business with him.
Haniya replaced Khaled Meshaal, who now lives in Doha in exile.
Washington’s decision comes as ties between the Americans and Palestinians have worsened since U.S. Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital last year.