JERUSALEM (JTA) — Qatar denied reports that it has deported Hamas leader in exile Khaled Meshal to Turkey.
Qatari Foreign Minister Khalid bin Mohammed al-Attiyah said Monday during a news conference that reports earlier this month that Meshal had left Qatar were “just rumors,” according to The Associated Press.
“These are just rumors that are targeted at changing Qatar’s policies toward the Palestinian people,” Attiyah said in answer to a reporter’s question. “Khaled Meshal is a dear guest in Qatar and he is in his country.”
Israel’s Foreign Ministry in a statement issued after a Turkish newspaper reported the move praised Qatar for deporting Meshal, saying the ministry had worked openly and through private channels to Qatar and other countries in order to effect Meshal’s deportation.
“We expect the Turkish government to now follow suit,” the statement said.
Meshal spent 13 years in Damascus before leaving in January 2012 due to Syria’s continuing civil war.
Qatar is working to strengthen ties with Egypt and several Gulf States that object to the Hamas presence.