'Palestinians are biggest winners of Arab Spring'

Speaking in Turkey, Hamas leader says Palestinians to win big from rise of Islamists to power.

Hamas PM Ismail Haniyeh, Turkish PM  Erdogan_311 (photo credit: Stringer/Reuters)
Hamas PM Ismail Haniyeh, Turkish PM Erdogan_311
(photo credit: Stringer/Reuters)
  Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh claimed Tuesday that Palestinians would be the biggest winners of the so-called Arab Spring revolutions that saw the successful overthrow of three separate regimes in the Middle East and a notable rise in the power of Islamist groups.
Speaking with Turkish journalists during his trip to Turkey, the Hamas leader stressed that the recent victory of Islamist parties in newly democratic elections in countries such as Egypt and Tunisia foreshadowed a "promising future" for the Palestinian people.
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"I can confirm that the Palestinian issue is the biggest winner from the Arab Spring," Haniyeh said, according to Hamas affiliate news outlet Al Resalah.
Haniyeh also attended a Justice and Development Party (AK Party) gathering in Istabul after meetings with representatives of Turkey's main political parties, according to Turkish daily Today's Zaman.
There, Haniyeh expressed gratitude to Turkey for its continued support of Gaza.
Haniyeh told journalists that he was unable to leave Gaza between 2007 to 2011 due to strict Egyptian contorl of the Rafah border. Haniyeh blamed former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak for the restrictions, and said that "problems at the Rafah border crossing are mostly resolved."
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has championed the rights of Gaza's citizens especially in the period following the IDF raid of the Mavi Marmara where nine Turkish activists were killed.
Haniyeh met with the Turkish prime minister Sunday, and also paid a visit to the Mavi Marmara, where he held a press conference with the Turkish Humanitarian Aid Foundation (IHH) that headed the 2010 fatal mission to break the Gaza blockade.
He is on his first tour of the Middle East since 2007, and is expected to visit Qatar and Bahrain after paying visits to Sudan, Egypt and Turkey.
While Turkish-Israeli diplomatic relations are at a low, leaders from the two countries, including Erdogan, are expected to meet in Seoul, South Korea during a nuclear summit addressing at the end of March, according to Today's Zaman.