Oren: Turkey has embraced the leaders of Iran and Hamas
Erdogan: Hamas is not a terrorist organization.
By HILARY LEILA KRIEGER
WASHINGTON – Israel envoy criticized Ankara’s outreach to terrorist groups Friday, the same day that Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan was quoted as saying Hamas is not a terrorist organization.“Turkey has embraced the leaders of Iran and Hamas, all of whom called for Israel’s destruction,” Ambassador Michael Oren declared.“Our policy has not changed but Turkey’s policy has changed, very much,over the last few years,” he said. “Under a different government withan Islamic orientation, Turkey has turned away from the West.”But Oren, speaking on a conference call organized by The Israel Project, held out hope for reconciliation.“We certainly do not have any desire in any further deterioration inour relations with the Turks,” he said. “It’s an important MiddleEastern power. It has been a friend in the past.”Erdogan on Friday declared at a rally that Hamas is not a terroristorganization, but a resistance movement, according to theIstanbul-based daily Hürriyet.Erdogan said that Hamas, the legitimate winner of the Palestinian elections, was fighting for its land.Advertisement“You are always talking about democracy. You’ll never let Hamas rule.What kind of democracy is this?” he said, apparently addressing theIsraeli leadership.“I do not think that Hamas is a terrorist organization,” Erdogan wasquoted as saying. “They are Palestinians in resistance, fighting fortheir own land.”The Turkish leader went on to echo Tuesday’s speech, in which he called Israel’s boarding of the Gaza flotilla “a massacre.”In his address Friday, he said the Ten Commandments should havedeterred the soldiers from killing the nine men who died onboard the Mavi Marmara.“If you do not understand it in Turkish, I will say it in English: Youshall not kill,” he reportedly said – repeating the phrase in Hebrew.“They even slaughtered 19-year-old Furkan. They did not even care for the babies in the cradle,” Erdogan said.Nineteen-year-old Furkan Dogan, a Turkish-American was the youngest ofthe nine activists killed in the raid. His funeral Friday in hisfamily’s hometown in Kayseri in central Turkey drew 10,000 people, somechanting, “Down with Israel.”“Neither I nor his mother or brother have any grief,” his father, AhmetDogan, told The Associated Press as he arranged flowers on his son’scoffin before prayers started. “We believe he became a martyr and Godaccepts martyrs to paradise.”In his speech, Erdogan also slammed Turkish media reports that werecritical of his Justice and Development Party’s support of Hamas,saying the “columnists” had a slanted view of the events.Earlier on Friday, Turkey’s deputy prime minister said his countrywould work to reduce its military and economic cooperation with Israel.Existing contracts would be reviewed and reworked or canceled, he said.AP contributed to this report.
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