London- The US embassy in Beirut is exerting pressure on Lebanese officials to avoid granting residency permits to Hamas officials who were lately expelled from Qatar based on a request from Washington and Tel Aviv, Western diplomatic sources told Asharq Al-Awsat.
Lately, Doha expelled from its territory several of the Palestinian movement’s senior members who are involved in military operations in the West Bank. The expulsion includes three members of Hamas’ 18-member politburo. However, it does not involve former Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal.
Hamas operative Saleh al-Arouri, who is accused by Tel Aviv of conducting operations against Israel from the West Bank, is considered one of the main officials whom Qatar lately expelled.
Last year, Turkey had also requested that Arouri leaves its territories as part of talks launched between Ankara and Tel Aviv on correcting the two countries’ troubled relations.
Israel believes Arouri was behind the abduction of two Jewish teenagers in the West Bank in the summer of 2014.
Palestinian and Israeli sources have confirmed that Arouri and another official called Moussa Doudine, were expelled from Qatar. However, Hamas insists on denying the reports.
After the Qatari officials informed Hamas leaders that the five officials need to leave the country, the movement discussed the option of moving its leadership to several other countries, including Malaysia, Lebanon or Iran, the sources said.
The sources added that US diplomats lately contacted Lebanese officials and prevented them from granting residencies for the five Hamas officials.
The US diplomats also warned the Lebanese officials against providing protection to any Hamas official who is expelled from Doha.
Early this month, reports uncovered that Doha officially asked Hamas not to use its territories for directing any activities against Israel.
The Qatari decisions to expel Hamas leaders came after US President Donald Trump launched an attack on the movement, describing it a terrorist group and criticizing all those providing a cover to a terrorist organization.