Erdogan: 'I don't see Hamas as a terror organization'

In a televised interview with Charlie Rose, Turkey's prime minister praises Fatah-Hamas unity, says Israel must apologize for 'Mavi Marmara.'

Erdogan 311 (R) (photo credit: REUTERS)
Erdogan 311 (R)
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan sat down with US talk show host Charlie Rose Wednesday evening to discuss the issue of a future Palestinian state and the factions that would control it.
"[Hamas] won the elections, they had ministers, and they had parliament speakers who were imprisoned by Israel, about 35 ministers and members of parliament in Israel prisons," he said to Rose, adding emphatically that he does not believe Hamas is a terrorist group.
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"Where is terrorism? They entered into the elections and after the elections this is how they were reacted, I mean, calling them terrorists, this would be disrespect to the will of the Palestinian people," Erdogan said.
Erdogan told Rose that he is a strong supporter of the two-state solution, and while he acknowledged that relations between Israel and Turkey remain strained, his focus was on the embargo of Gaza.
"It has to be lifted," he told Rose. A year after Israel's raid on the Mavi Marmara, Turkey, he said, is still waiting for three things: "Apology, compensation, and lifting of the embargo on Gaza."
Turkey stands behind the Fatah-Hamas unity pact and views it as a sign of progress that will bring peace to the region, he said, adding "I am very pleased with what had happened. I am very pleased. Let me express it very clearly, because this is what we wanted to see for many years." But for Erdogan, progress toward a the creation of a Palestinian state does not affect his views on the right of Israel to exist.
"We are a country that's accepted the statehood of Israel and Palestine," he told Rose.