Erdogan blames world for not ‘giving Hamas a chance’

January 31st, 2009 - 7:36 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, Jan 31 (DPA) Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has blamed the international policy of isolating the radical Islamist movement Hamas as a reason for the ongoing tensions in the Gaza Strip.Erdogan, who was Thursday the centre of controversy at the World Economic Forum in Davos after an angry exchange with Israeli President Shimon Peres, argued for engaging Hamas in the Mideast process in an interview with the Washington Post published Saturday.

Erdogan stormed off the podium at that meeting following his exchange with the Israeli president, and was welcomed as a hero in Turkey for the move.

Asked about his relationship with Hamas, which refuses to recognise Israel’s right to exist, Erdogan stressed that the movement’s legitimacy should be recognised.

“First of all, Hamas is not an arm of Iran. Hamas entered the elections as a political party. If the whole world had given them the chance of becoming a political player, maybe they would not be in a situation like this after the elections that they won,” he said.

Erdogan went on to charge that “the world has not respected the political will of the Palestinian people. (They say) on the one hand, we defend democracy and we try our best to keep democracy in the Middle East, but on the other hand we do not respect the outcome of … the ballot box”.

The Turkish leader called Palestine “an open-air prison” and said that Hamas could not change the situation.

“Just imagine, you imprison the speaker of a country as well as some ministers of its government and members of its parliament. And then you expect them to sit obediently?”

Erdogan, discussing his efforts to broker talks between Israel and the Palestinians, said he had told Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert that “it would not be correct not to include Hamas in the negotiations. They entered the election in Palestine and won the majority of seats in the parliament”.

The Washington Post interview was apparently conducted before the Davos incident, which in part involved a reporter for the newspaper who was moderating the panel discussion which Erdogan stormed out of.

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