'Israel must recognize Palestinian peace efforts'

After snubbing Barak at Vienna conference, Turkish president Gul praises Hamas leader for willingness to make peace.

Gul 311 R (photo credit: Turkey's President Abdullah Gul makes a speech at )
Gul 311 R
(photo credit: Turkey's President Abdullah Gul makes a speech at )
Turkish President Abdullah Gul on Sunday accused Israel of not recognizing Palestinian efforts to advance the peace process.
He pointed specifically to Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal whom he praised for making statements emphasizing democracy and a willingness to live in peace with Israelis, Istanbul daily Today’s Zaman reported.
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Gul’s comments came as he returned to Turkey from Vienna, where he and Defense Minister Ehud Barak made efforts to avoid meeting each other at the fourth annual World Policy Conference that both men were attending.
Gul made sure not to enter Vienna’s Hofburg Palace where the conference was taking place at the same time as Barak.
Likewise, he did not attend a luncheon hosted by Austrian President Heinz Fisher, or take part in a group picture of leaders at the conference, because of Barak’s participation.
While the lunch took place, Gul visited a nearby neighborhood with a large Turkish population.
Barak did not stay indifferent to the snub, and, according to the reports, left the conference hall after Fisher gave the opening address to the group, and before Gul spoke. No statement was forthcoming on Saturday night from Barak’s office.
Gul was quoted by Today’s Zaman as saying on Sunday that Israel could improve its relations with Turkey by making peace with the Palestinians and other Arab states.
He said that the Arab Spring and the transition toward democracy in many Arab states should be used as an opportunity by Israel to make peace with those countries.
“When democracy prevails in the Middle East, Israel will eventually have to end its violence in Palestine,” Gul said, claiming that Arab dictators had allowed Israel to carry out its policies in Gaza.