Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government “is perhaps the worst in Israel’s history, or at least the unluckiest,” said Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan Thursday, adding that Hamas “is not a terrorist movement.”
The Turkish leader said senior members of his government would not meet with their Israeli counterparts until Israel changes its policies in the region. “We will not renew agreements we signed with (Israel),” he said. “They lose from this, because after Turkey, no state in the region will agree to sit with them at the same table.”
He reiterated that relations between Jerusalem and Ankara would not return to normal until Israel apologized to Turkey for the IDF’s takeover of the Gaza aid ship Marmara, paid compensation to the families of the nine activists killed, and lifted the blockade on the Gaza Strip.
“When they meet these conditions, we’ll reassess the situation,” Erdogan said.
Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman’s recent remarks that Erdogan is a “liar” and that Ankara’s demand for an apology was “more than chutzpah” also angered the Turkish prime minister.
“He who attacks Turkey with such despicable words should look in the mirror to see the person responsible for all kinds of despicable acts,” Erdogan said. He also referred to the internal political situation, saying Lieberman was a problem weighing down Israel, and should be dismissed.
“Of course this is their obligation, not ours, but it’s clear that otherwise there will be no end to the troubles he causes the Israeli people,” he said.
Hamas is a far lesser problem according to Erdogan. During an interview, the Turkish leader said Hamas was not a terrorist group, and its members were not terrorists, but “people defending their land.”
He explained that Hamas had “not been given a chance,” and that “all options for action had been denied them, and every possible hurdle had been placed before them. Its ministers and members of parliament have been imprisoned.”
Erdogan said that during his meeting with Quartet special envoy to the Middle East Tony Blair, he had told Blair that Hamas must be recognized as a party to the conflict and an important factor in reaching a solution.