December 18, 2019

Israeli MP targeted by Hamas Istanbul cell calls for sanctions on Turkey
A senior Israeli MP has called on the US to impose sanctions on Turkey after an investigation by The Daily Telegraph revealed he had been the target of a Hamas assassination attempt plotted from Istanbul. Nir Barkat, the former mayor Jerusalem, was in the sights of an Istanbul-based Hamas cell which operates from Turkey’s largest city while the Turkish government turns a blind eye to its activities.  In response to the report, Mr Barkat called David Friedman, the US ambassador to Israel, and urged the Trump administration to begin imposing sanctions on Turkey. "If we want to combat terror, which is a global problem, we must never allow any country to get away with providing infrastructure for terror organisations. If any country provides those services - openly or discreetly - they must be sanctioned,” Mr Barakat said in an interview.  Israel’s foreign ministry also called on Turkey to shut down Hamas’ base in Istanbul in response to the Telegraph report.  “Hamas terrorists are directing attacks against Israel from Turkey, while the Turkish leadership is turning a blind eye,” said Yuval Rotem, director general of the foreign ministry. Hamas terrorists are directing attacks against Israel from Turkey, while the Turkish leadership is turning a blind eye. Israel calls on ���� to immediately cut its support for Hamas operations out of its territory and to close Hamas' HQ in Istanbul.https://t.co/ZIPAf9ij0R— Yuval Rotem ���� (@Yuval_Rotem) December 18, 2019 “Israel calls on Turkey to immediately cut its support for Hamas operations out of its territory and to close Hamas' headquarters in Istanbul.” It also emerged that Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Turkey’s president, met two alleged UK-based Hamas supporters during a trip to Britain for the Nato summit earlier this month.  Mr Erdoğan addressed a rally of supporters of his Justice & Development Party in London on December 5. At the same event he also met with Anas Altikriti and Zaher Birawi, who are both prominent Islamists in the UK with links to Hamas.  Israel designated Mr Birawi as a member of a terrorist organisation in 2013 for allegedly being part of Hamas’ European office. Photographs show him sitting with Ismail Haniyeh, the political leader of Hamas. Mr Birawi could not be reached for comment. Mr Erdogan (left) with Mr Altikriti (third from right) and Mr Birawi (second from right) Mr Altikriti is the head of the Cordoba Foundation, which David Cameron once described as the “political front for the Muslim Brotherhood” in Britain. Mr Altikriti has voiced support for Hamas in the past, saying it was “fighting back” against Israeli occupation.   "I support the Palestinian people in their struggle for freedom from occupation," Mr Altikriti said. "Any support for Hamas stems from them being the democratically elected party in 2006. I would have supported and will always support anyone who fights and wins a free and fair democratic election, regardless of faith, culture or ideology."   Neither man is on a UK list of designated terrorists.  Bringing sanctions against its Nato ally Turkey would be a diplomatically fraught move for the US, which has nuclear weapons, aircraft, and service personnel based at Incirlik air base in southern Turkey.  The Trump administration has so far shown little appetite for sanctioning Turkey, despite pressure in Congress to punish Mr Erdoğan for his attack on Kurdish forces in northeast Syria.  Zacharia Najib, a senior Hamas operative based in Istanbul, suggested Mr Barkat as as an assassination target for a young Hamas recruit who came to Turkey. He told the recruit that he would be remembered if he killed a prominent Israeli.  Mr Barkat said he had been contacted by Israel’s security services about an assassination attempt and that his personal bodyguard had been tripled until the authorities were confident the plot had been thwarted.   Mr Barkat was mayor of Jerusalem for ten years and is now a member of parliament for Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud Party. He is talked about as a potential future prime minister after Mr Netanyahu.
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