Hamas unlikely to open office in Turkey: Envoy

Hamas unlikely to open office in Turkey: Envoy

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Hamas unlikely to open office in Turkey: Envoy

Hamas must change its armed stance if it wants a HQ in Turkey, says Maruf.

As long as Hamas sticks to armed struggle against Israel, then Turkey, Jordan and Egypt cannot host an office of Hamas on principle, Palestinian Ambassador to Turkey Nabil Maruf said yesterday.

“You can’t have an office for Hamas when they are saying they are going to demolish Israel. They cannot say these things from an office in Ankara or Istanbul. This is impossible. Logic states that it’s not easy for these countries to accept having the headquarters of Hamas, because of the current political agenda of Hamas, which is completely different than the political program of Turkey, Egypt or Jordan,” Maruf told Hürriyet Daily News.

Those countries that have recognized Israel and the peace process and are in favor of peace and stability in the Middle East would only allow Hamas to open offices if the group changed its policy, the ambassador said.

“I did not put Qatar in this list. Because, you can find a lot of different things there,” he said. If Hamas changed its political program, renounced armed struggle and opened an office in Turkey, the Palestinian authority would not be disturbed by that, the ambassador said. “If we reach a point where Hamas changed its political views and strategy, this means there will be no division in Palestine. There will be a unity government,” he said.

Official relations with Turkey and a unified Palestine would be conducted through the embassy and it would be unnecessary to open a separate office for Hamas, Maruf said. If a separate office were opened, “Fatah and other factions would also open offices. There is no need to open offices for Palestinian parties in Turkey,” he said.

There was only a possibility of Turkey hosting families of Hamas members who had to leave Syria “if they had no place to stay […] But I’m sure Turkey is going to work politically through the proper channels […] It’s a sensitive issue. You cannot deal with Hamas in a way that affects your official relation with the Palestinian authority,” Maruf said.

Elaborating on the claims Turkey had promised $300 million in aid to Hamas, the ambassador said he did not think Ankara was giving cash to Hamas but was financing humanitarian projects both in the Gaza Strip and West Bank.

“It is financing projects for hospitals, clinics, schools or roads, but never paid cash money,” he said, adding that Ankara promised $150 million to Palestine in a donors’ meeting. After the war in Gaza in 2008 and 2009, Turkey also announced $50 million for Gaza reconstruction.

Swapped Palestinian prisoners who were hosted by Turkey were taken care of by the government for the first couple of months, but now they lead ordinary lives in Istanbul and Ankara, Maruf said. “Now they have rented their houses and will start learning Turkish. They will try to find jobs here. An association in Konya will help them with things like providing furniture.

“Every one of them has their salary from Palestine. If they feel comfortable here and decide to stay, I don’t think Turkey will say no.” One Palestinian couple married in Turkey, and another will become engaged in 10 days, the ambassador said.