Thawing Israeli-Turkish relations threaten Hamas

Israel's President Herzog and Turkish President Erdogan  credit: Haim Zach, GPO
Israel's President Herzog and Turkish President Erdogan credit: Haim Zach, GPO

Since 2017, Turkey has become an important economic base for Hamas.

"We are monitoring with deep concern the visits of senior people of the Zionist entity to countries of the region," says the statement issued by Hamas in the Gaza Strip last night, following the trip to Turkey visit by President Isaac Herzog. "These countries are the Palestinian people's strategic depth. Do not give an opportunity to the Zionist entity to penetrate the region and play with the interests of our peoples."

Despite the condemnation, this is very moderate wording in comparison with previous condemnatory statements released by Hamas, such as on Israel's normalization agreement with the UAE. The language of the statement clearly indicates the concern on the part of the Hamas leadership for its economic fate, which resides in Turkey. "Globes" has exposed Hamas's economic set-up, which centers on Turkey, and is connected to real estate and investment companies that provide finance for the organization, including its terrorist arm. According to Israeli defense sources, Hamas's activity in Turkey is not just economic. It directs terrorist attacks from there, including recruitment of operatives and preparation of the attacks.

Hamas wound up in Turkey after it was thrown out of Saudi Arabia in 2017 and its activity was curtailed in other countries of the region under US pressure and following its designation as a terrorist organization by the US and the EU. Hamas's economic base in Turkey also grew because of the frosty relations and the friction between Ankara and Jerusalem. Relations now appear to be warming up again, however, and it can be said with near certainty that the issue of Hamas came up in the talks between Herzog and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdo?an. The question is what Erdo?an, who in the past sent "humanitarian" aid to Hamas through protest flotillas, will now be prepared to do.

Another aspect of Herzog's visit to Turkey is energy. The EastMed pipeline, planned to traverse the Mediterranean from Israel to Europe via Greece, Turkey and Italy, is very much needed, but is stuck, among other things because of high costs. The alternative at present is an existing pipeline in Turkey. Theoretically, gas from Israel, and not just from Israel, could be transported to Europe via the Turkish pipeline, and thus help to reduce Russia's leverage over northern Europe.

The vision is much more far reaching, and Israel aspires to mediate in the dispute over Mediterranean gas between Greece and Cyprus and Turkey. Greece and Cyprus do not recognize economic rights for Turkish Cyprus, and there is an area for gas exploration in dispute north of the island. For its part, Turkey contends that the scattered Greek islands give that country much more than it actually deserves.

There those who would say that this is an especially utopian vision, given the bad blood in the region, and certainly in view of the position of Egypt, Israel's closest gas partner.

Incidentally, Israeli gas has started to reach Egypt via the Jordanian pipeline that traverses that country from north to south and crosses to Egypt from Aqaba to Sinai. The increase in quantities of Israeli gas exported to Egypt will allow Egypt to send gas from its liquefaction plants to Europe.

Published by Globes, Israel business news - - on March 10, 2022.

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd., 2022.

Israel's President Herzog and Turkish President Erdogan  credit: Haim Zach, GPO
Israel's President Herzog and Turkish President Erdogan credit: Haim Zach, GPO
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