Should Turkey embrace Hamas as a ‘civilian’ party?

Should Turkey embrace Hamas as a ‘civilian’ party?

Turkish Foreign Ministry sources have “corrected” charges made by Israeli President Shimon Peres and a leading Israeli newspaper by declaring that the amount of Turkish funding to Hamas would not be anything close to the quoted “$300 million.”

This is good news, and of course bad news. On the good side, Turkey was not making such a “huge contribution” to Hamas, while on the bad side the statement revealed that, if not at the level of $300 million, Turkey was still providing some funding to Hamas.

Is Hamas not a terrorist organization? Excluding some Arab countries and Turkey’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) (but including the Turkish state), the entire international community of nations say it clearly: As long as Hamas does not denounce terrorism, lay down arms and opt to become a “civilian” political party, it will remain a terrorist organization and will be treated as such. 

Containing violence

Of course, many European countries, the United States and even Israel have some contacts with Hamas. However, none of these contacts are anything close to official recognition as a legitimate representative of the Palestinian people, but rather aimed at either facilitating humanitarian aid to the people of Gaza, or help in containing violence. Probably, like the Turkish government and intelligence services meeting with chiefs of the separatist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), the Israeli government and the intelligence organization must be in contact with Hamas. The aims of such contacts are obvious.

As a country that has suffered so much from terrorism and lost almost 40,000 people to terrorism-related violence, Turkey should not be assisting, abetting or providing some sort of overt or covert support to terrorism in another country.
President Abdullah Gül could not deny right away allegations that after all that have been unfolding in Syria, Hamas was considering moving its “political headquarters” from Damascus to Qatar, Cairo or Turkey. Sources at the Foreign Ministry also did not deny such a probability; of course, they did not confirm it either. The president said allowing Hamas to have a bureau in Turkey was an issue that must be handled later. What does that mean? He did not say “Hamas wanted to have a bureau in Turkey.” He just said it was not the time to make a decision on the issue. That is a between-the-lines confirmation that such things are being considered. 

Election victory

Furthermore, the president stressed that Hamas was a “political formation” of Gaza that had entered and won elections. Yet what dimensions Turkey’s relations with Hamas would take would be seen in time.

Was Turkey not recognizing the official Palestinian government? Was Turkey not considering the Palestinian Liberation Organization as the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people? Had Hamas not very recently joined the PLO?

Embracing Hamas to the extent of letting it move its HQ to Turkey would mean intentionally placing ourselves in far deeper difficulties than we could ever imagine.

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