US move to put Hamas chief on terror list harmful to peace: Turkey

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US move to put Hamas chief on terror list harmful to peace: Turkey

Turkey has slammed the US decision to put the leader of the Palestinian Islamic resistance movement, Hamas, on its so-called terror blacklist, saying it could undermine the peace process in the Middle East.

"We are concerned that this decision of the US administration, which disregards the realities on the ground, could undermine the Middle East peace process, including the efforts for intra-Palestinian peace and reconciliation," Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman Hami Aksoy said in a statement on Friday.

The US State Department said in a statement on Wednesday that Washington put the Hamas chief, Ismail Haniyeh, on its so-called terror blacklist and imposed sanctions on him.

It added that Haniyeh, who was named head of Hamas in May 2017, has close links with Hamas' military wing and has been a proponent of armed resistance against Israel.

"He has reportedly been involved in terrorist attacks against Israeli citizens. Hamas has been responsible for an estimated 17 American lives killed in terrorist attacks," the statement said, without providing any evidence to back the claims.

The Turkish spokesperson expressed hope that the US moves against Haniyeh would not negatively affect Ankara's humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip.

"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.

He emphasized that the US move overlooked the fact that Hamas is "an important reality of Palestinian political life."

The US moves come as Hamas, which has controlled the Gaza Strip for more than a decade, reached a national reconciliation deal with rival party Fatah in October 2017 with the aim of ending a decade-long political rift mainly over the governance of Gaza. 

“Fatah and Hamas reached an agreement at dawn today upon a generous Egyptian sponsorship," Haniyeh said in a statement on October 12 without elaborating on the deal.

Haniyeh replaced Khaled Meshaal, who was the Hamas political bureau chief and lives in exile in the Qatari capital city of Doha.

The US move comes as tension is already high in the occupied Palestinian territories following US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem al-Quds as the capital of Israel and his plan to relocate the US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to the holy city.

Trump's al-Quds shift was a break from decades of US policy that left the occupied city’s status to be decided in Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.

The dramatic shift in Washington’s policy vis-à-vis the city infuriated Palestinians and triggered demonstrations in the occupied Palestinian territories, Iran, Turkey, Egypt, Jordan, Tunisia, Algeria, Iraq, Morocco, and other Muslim countries.

In January, Haniyeh warned against the “rash decisions” of the US and Israel with regard to Jerusalem al-Quds as a historic threat against Palestine.

The Hamas leader described President Trump’s recognition of East Jerusalem al-Quds as “the beginning of the end of Israel.”

Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad al-Malki is scheduled to embark on a two-day visit to Turkey on Friday to hold talks with his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu.

A Hamas spokesman said the US move to place Haniyeh on the terror list will not deter its resistance against Israel.

He added, "This Zionist policy supported by the US cannot be confronted unless we ignite a new intifada (uprising)."

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