Turkish president pressures Hamas to recognize Israel

In 'Wall Street Journal' interview Gul welcomes Obama's reference to 67 borders, recalls telling Mashaal "you have to be rational."

abdullah gul 311 (photo credit: REUTERS)
abdullah gul 311
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Turkish President Abdullah Gul on Friday said that he had pressed Hamas to recognize Israel's right to exist.
During an interview with The Wall Street Journal a day after US President Barack Obama delivered his major speech on the Middle East, the Turkish president welcomed Obama's reference to creating a Palestinian state based on pre-1967 borders as "a very important step."
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"The fact that there was a reference to the borders of 1967 was a very important step in itself," Gul said.
Gul said during the interview from his office at the presidential palace in Ankara that he had already advised Hamas to recognize Israel. He recalled in particular a 2006 meeting with Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal in Ankara, when he said he told Mashaal, "you have to be rational" about recognizing Israel's right to exist.
The Turkish president said he Hamas to recognize Israel at the same time that Israel recognizes a Palestinian state. Hamas's charter calls for replacing Israel with a Palestinian state in its entirety, and while Hamas leaders have spoken of a two-state solution in the past, it has been as a temporary measure, Gul said during the interview.
Gul highlighted that Israel was right to put its security first—but that this must be done effectively. Israel needs to understand the meaning of the democratic uprisings in the Arab world, namely that new elected governments would no longer be allowed by their voters to tolerate "humiliating" Israeli policies, Gul stressed during the interview.
"Israel shouldn't focus on tactical issues. They have to look at the strategic side," Gul told The Wall Street Journal.
The Turkish president said  Obama "has a point" when he said in his speech that Israel couldn't be expected to negotiate with a body that doesn't recognize Israel's right to exist.