The Trump administration slammed Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Tuesday for meeting with Hamas leadership on Saturday.

“The United States strongly objects to Turkish President Erdoğan hosting two Hamas leaders in Istanbul on Aug. 22,” said U.S. State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus in a statement. “Hamas is designated as a terrorist organization by the U.S and E.U., and both officials hosted by President Erdoğan are Specially Designated Global Terrorists.”

Ortagus went on to state that “the U.S. Rewards for Justice Program is seeking information about one of the individuals for his involvement in multiple terrorist attacks, hijackings and kidnappings.”

She also said that Erdoğan’s “continued outreach to this terrorist organization only serves to isolate Turkey from the international community, harms the interests of the Palestinian people and undercuts global efforts to prevent terrorist attacks launched from Gaza. We continue to raise our concerns about the Turkish government’s relationship with Hamas at the highest levels.”

Turkey supports Hamas and has given citizenship to its members.

In what was the second meeting that Erdoğan has held with Hamas leadership in Turkey this year, according to Ortagus, Hamas leader Ismael Haniyeh “congratulated Erdoğan on the advent of a new Hijri year, the discovery of a new natural-gas field and the reopening of the Aya Sofia Mosque,” according to a Hamas press release.

Members of Hamas leadership that met with Erdoğan included deputy chief Saleh al-Arouri, chief of Hamas abroad Maher Salah, Hamas head of Arab and Islamic religions Ezzat al-Rihiq, and Hamas representative in Turkey Jihad Yaghmor. Arouri is a U.S.-wanted terrorist.

The first meeting occurring Feb. 1, according to Ortagus.

Relations between the United States and Turkey, both NATO members, have been tense.

Despite withdrawing most U.S. troops from northeast Syria and other moves that have been deemed favorable towards Ankara, Washington ejected Turkey last year from the F-35 fighter jet program after the latter purchased the S-400 missile-defense system from Russia, although the United States has yet to enact congressionally passed sanctions on Turkey for the acquisition.

Turkey has also objected to the Aug. 13 U.S.-brokered agreement to normalize relations between Israel and the United Arab Emirates.

Support Jewish Journalism
with 2020 Vision

One of the most intriguing stories of the sudden Coronavirus crisis is the role of the internet. With individuals forced into home quarantine, most are turning further online for information, education and social interaction.

JNS's influence and readership are growing exponentially, and our positioning sets us apart. Most Jewish media are advocating increasingly biased progressive political and social agendas. JNS is providing more and more readers with a welcome alternative and an ideological home.

During this crisis, JNS continues working overtime. We are being relied upon to tell the story of this crisis as it affects Israel and the global Jewish community, and explain the extraordinary political developments taking place in parallel.

Our ability to thrive in 2020 and beyond depends on the generosity of committed readers and supporters. Monthly donations in particular go a long way in helping us sustain our operations. We greatly appreciate any contributions you can make during these challenging times. We thank you for your ongoing support and wish you blessings for good health and peace of mind.