Hamas is not terrorist group: Turkish PM

ANKARA- Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Friday he did not view radical Palestinian group Hamas, Israel's arch-foe, as a terrorist organisation.
"Hamas are resistance fighters who are struggling to defend their land. They have won an election," Erdogan said in a public speech in the central city of Konya, broadcast live on television.
"I have told this to US officials... I do not accept Hamas as a terrorist organisation. I think the same today. They are defending their land," he said.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan
The United States and the European Union blacklist Hamas as a terrorist group despite its victory in Palestinian elections in 2006.
Erdogan made the remarks in an angry tirade against Israel after Monday's raid on a flotilla carrying aid to the Gaza Strip, which claimed the lives of nine Turks and plunged already strained ties between the once-close allies into deep crisis.
He lashed out at Western powers for denying Hamas a chance to shift to a democratic platform.
"Why didn't you give them an opportunity? Let them wage a democratic struggle," he said, his speech often interrupted by a cheering crowd of party supporters.
Erdogan renewed criticism of Israel's raid on the aid flotilla, whose main organisers included a Turkish Islamist charity, with the bulk of its passengers Turks.
"Our problem is not with the Israeli or the Jewish people. Our problem is with the oppressive Israeli administration which commits state terror," he said.
"If peace is going to come to the world, this world should be built on justice," he said.
The Israeli government, he said, is "hypocritical," "paranoid" and a "lier."
Ankara has previously insisted that peace cannot be achieved in the Middle East if Hamas was excluded from the process.
It has also urged the armed group, which has called for the destruction of Israel, to renounce violence and engage in peaceful politics.
In February 2006, Ankara angered Israel when it hosted a delegation led by Hamas supremo Khaled Meshaal, following the Islamists' victory in Palestinian elections, in what Turkish officials defended as an effort to press the militant group to lay down arms.
In January 2009, Turkish officials acted as mediators between Hamas leaders based in Syria and Egyptian officials seeking to hammer out a ceasefire deal to end Israel's devastating 22-day war on Gaza.
Israel has cut Gaza off from all but vital humanitarian aid in a bid to pressure Hamas to end rocket attacks on southern Israel.

Saturday, June 5th 2010

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