Hamas is not a not a terrorist organization, it is a political party, Turkish
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan told PBS’s Charlie Rose in an interview that
was aired late on Wednesday night.
“Let me give you a very clear message.
I don’t see Hamas as a terror organization. Hamas is a political party.
And it is an organization. It is a resistance movement trying to protect
its country under occupation. So we should not mix terrorist
organizations with such an organization,” Erdogan said.
Ties remain strained, but Turkey, Israel keep on trading
official retorted Thursday: “If Hamas is not a terrorist organization, what is?"
“Hamas deliberately targets civilians, puts suicide bombers on a pedestal and
sees them as role models for children,” the official told The Jerusalem
“Hamas just recently praised Osama bin Laden and called him a holy
warrior,” the official noted.
Israel is not alone in defining Hamas as a
terrorist organization; other countries such as the United States and Canada
concur, the official said.
During the interview Erdogan defended his
position with regard to Hamas, saying that “calling them terrorists, this would
be disrespectful to their policy and people.”
In his comments, he ignored
the June 2007 coup in which Hamas threw Fatah out of Gaza.
painted Hamas as an organization that had participated in
Erdogan said the recent reconciliation agreement between Fatah
and Hamas was a positive step and that he had invested a lot of time in trying
to mend relations between the two Palestinian factions.
“I am very
pleased with what has happened. This is what we wanted to see for many years. I
spent a lot of efforts as prime minister to bring them together,” he
He urged the West to support the new relationship between Fatah and
Hamas and Palestinian elections within a year.
Peace in the Middle East
starts with internal peace among Palestinians, he said.
over Hamas’s refusal to renounce violence and recognize Israel, and emphasized
instead Hamas’s statement that it would accept a Palestinian state along the
“A lot of the issues are possible to solve,” he said.
“And these developments in Palestine, this politicization process will give an
end to violence.”
But for peace to happen, Israel had to stop its
“terrorizing” tactics, such as when it boarded the flotilla heading to Gaza last
May, including the Turkish ship the Mavi Marmara, and killed nine Turkish
activists, he said.
“They attacked our humanitarian assistance flotilla,
and did not apologize for that. And they did not accept to pay compensation for
our nine martyrs,” said Erdogan.
He added that Israel continued to
restrict the flow of goods in and out of Gaza, which he called an “open prison.”
Israel, Erdogan said, must apologize for its actions aboard the flotilla and
fully open Gaza’s boarders.
He also called on Israel to get rid of its
nuclear weapons. Why, he wanted to know, was the world worried about a nuclear
Iran, but not about a nuclear Israel? “Iran is pushed although they don’t have
nuclear arms. And we find that unfair. If you have to be fair, let’s, first of
all, get rid of the atomic bomb in Israel. Then let me act together with you
Turning to Turkey’s unsuccessful pursuit of membership in
the European Union, he accused the EU of placing unfair obstacles in its
“We are at the doors of the European Union. And there is a European
Union that does not still accept Turkey as a member. This is their
understanding. And what do we lack in Turkey? What do we lack? I mean, there are
countries among the 27 members who are well behind Turkey,” he said.
say, ‘Open the doors.’ And they are putting those obstacles that they did not
put to anybody else,” he said.
As an Islamic democratic country that was
also a member of the EU, Turkey could play a role to bridge the gap between
other Islamic countries and the West, he said.