'First create Palestinian state, then peace'

Erdogan says that “those who agree to an Israeli state, cannot agree to a Palestinian state.”

erdogan waves at turkish parliament 370 (photo credit: REUTERS)
erdogan waves at turkish parliament 370
(photo credit: REUTERS)
First create a Palestinian state, and then make peace, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Friday in Washington, in a reversal of the conventional wisdom regarding what is needed to achieve an Israeli- Palestinian agreement.
Erdogan, who called Hamas as well as Fatah his “brothers,” said during the question and answer period following an address at the Brookings Institute that “those who agree to an Israeli state, cannot agree to a Palestinian state.”
“Israel itself does not accept a Palestinian state,” Erdogan said, ignoring Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s 2009 Bar-Ilan speech where he said he accepted a two-state solution.
“As long as Israel does not accept a Palestinian state, there is not much to talk about in terms of trying to achieve peace, because peace can be made between two states – and those two states, with all its institutions, all of its bodies, will be in existence, I think that is something we have to look at,” he said.
Erdogan, who met US President Barack Obama on Thursday, said that borders are the most important element of a peace agreement – giving short shrift to Israel’s position that security is the most important element.
“Israel has to withdraw to the 1967 borders,” Erdogan said. “When [Ehud] Olmert was prime minister, we used to talk about this, and he was positive on the border issue. But the governments after Olmert’s government are not – unfortunately – very positive on this because of the makeup of the governments there, and they have adopted a different approach.”
Erdogan said that Hamas will need to be “around the table” for peace to emerge, and that if Hamas and Fatah can reach a reconciliation, “then I think the talks with Israel could move forward more swiftly.” He said he did not believe Israeli-Palestinian talks could yield any results without a Hamas-Fatah reconciliation.
Turkey, he said, treats the Palestinian issues with as much “sensitivity” as it does a domestic Turkish issue.
In response to his comments, Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, who is respoinsibel for peace talks, said there is no chance that Israel could reach a peace agreement with Hamas.
In an interview Saturday evening with Army Radio, Livni said that Erdogan views Hamas positively, and this has been his stance for years.
“This perception is not correct,” she said. “Hamas represents an Islamic ideology that does not recognize Israel’s existence.
Hamas prefers to isolate itself than to say that Israel has the right to exist or to renounce violence.”
Livni also said that advanced weapons supplied by Russia to war-torn Syria could end up in the wrong hands in Syria or Lebanon, referring to Hezbollah, and be used against Israel.
“These are not just any weapons, they are tie-breakers, and that’s why there is a responsibility with all world powers, certainly Russia, not to supply such arms,” Livni said, adding that Israel had the right to defend itself.
While in Washington, Erdogan said that he is going ahead with plans to visit Gaza in June, but also added that he would visit the West Bank as well. His initial announcement that he would go to Gaza sparked protests in Washington and Ramallah that by so doing, and not coming to Ramallah, he would be strengthening Hamas at the expense of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
Israeli government officials said they were not aware of any talk about Erdogan visiting Jerusalem as well during that trip. A visit to Ramallah, however, would necessitate coordination with Jerusalem. Theoretically he could go to Gaza through Egypt, however, without having to coordinate with Israel.
Reuters contributed to this report.