Where is Salah al-Arouri these days? Where is the Hamas activist Israel claims has turned Turkey into a base for planning, funding and launching terror attacks in Gaza and the West Bank? It depends on who you ask. Several months ago, Arouri traveled from Turkey to one of the Gulf states in what was perceived in Jerusalem as a Turkish response to Israeli protests against the warm and supportive hospitality he was granted in Istanbul. These objections were conveyed through the few diplomatic and intelligence channels still operating between the two countries, American and European mediators and public statements.
In recent weeks, top Israeli defense and diplomatic sources have told me that Arouri is back in Turkey and has renewed his activity there, for which Israel holds Ankara fully responsible. Senior Turkish diplomatic sources speaking to Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity flatly rejected these claims. According to them, "Arouri left Turkey and has not returned. Israel’s claims are baseless.” Not only that; as far as Ankara is concerned, its insistence on keeping Arouri away from Turkey is yet another in a series of goodwill gestures toward Israel aimed at advancing the process of normalizing ties between the two states.