The Palestinian terror group Hamas has denied a report that its exiled leader, Khaled Mashaal, was kicked out of Qatar.
Mashaal and members of the Muslim Brotherhood were expelled from Qatar and were likely on their way to Turkey, CNN had reported Monday. Mashaal has been in Qatar since he was forced out of Syria in 2012. He was based in Syria for nearly a decade, but left over tensions with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad regarding the civil war there.
Hamas official Izzat Rishq wrote on his Facebook page Tuesday afternoon, “There is no truth to reports by certain media concerning the departure of Khaled Mashaal from Qatar.”
Nevertheless, the Israeli Foreign Ministry congratulated Qatar on its decision to deport Mashaal, saying, “The Foreign Ministry, led by Minister Avigdor Lieberman, has advanced various moves to cause Qatar to carry out this step and stop aiding Hamas, directly and indirectly. To this end, minister Lieberman and the ministry’s professional staff have acted in overt and covert tracks with Qatar and other states. We expect the Turkish government to now follow suit.”
The report on Mashaal comes as Qatar is seeking to repair ties with its Gulf neighbors-Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates-as well as Egypt. In late December, it was reported in the Arab media that Qatar suspended ties with Hamas in an effort to pressure the Palestinian terror group to change its policy against Egypt.
At the same time, the Saudis are brokering reconciliation efforts between Qatar and Egypt, in order to end an 18-month standoff over Qatar’s support of Hamas’s parent group, Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood. Qatar opposed the overthrow of Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi, a Brotherhood member, in July 2013.