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      Turkish PM: Hamas is a 'Political Group,' Not Terrorists

      Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan says his nation “stands by Hamas,” which he called “a political group.”
      By Chana Ya'ar
      First Publish: 1/14/2011, 10:48 AM / Last Update: 1/14/2011, 10:36 AM

      Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced Wednesday night that his nation “stands by Hamas,” which he called “a political group.”

      According to a report published on the Al Qassam website, Erdogan told the pan-Arab Al-Jazeera satellite television network that Hamas is not a terrorist movement.

      “We stand by Hamas when they are right, because the Hamas movement is a resistance movement,” Erdogan was quoted as saying. “I do not see Hamas as 'terrorist.' They are people who defend the land, and it is a political group that entered the elections and won the elections.”

      Erdogan warned Quartet Middle East envoy Tony Blair it will be impossible to negotiate any settlement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority without including Hamas.

      “Peace will not come out of a Hamas-excluded table,” he said. “Currently, Fatah and Hamas are two important elements in Palestine. If you see them as an element and do not see the other element, Palestinian peace will not materialize.”

      As in the past, Erdogan repeated his demand for Israel to compensate the families of the nine IHH terror activists who died in May 2010 after attacking IDF commandos on a flotilla ship that attempted to break the blockade on Gaza. Eight of the nine armed terror activists on the Turkish-sponsored Mavi Marmara vessel were Turkish nationals.

      The IDF commandos, who seized the ship to guide it into Ashdod port, killed the attackers in self-defense after they were set upon as they boarded the vessel. The clash was recorded on video tape. The ship has since been returned to Turkey.

      “We want Israel, after returning the Marmara ship to us, to apologize, to pay compensations, and thirdly, to lift the siege [of Gaza],” Erdogan continued. “Gaza is an open prison. It is not your right to sentence all those people to jail.”

      Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has made it clear that Israel has no intention of apologizing for the incident. However, political leaders in both Israel and Turkey have been working to find ways to cool the diplomatic flames being fanned by Erdogan over the past year.

      The Turkish prime minister slammed the current Israeli government, under Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, as one that is “at its worst” with Turkey. He also had harsh words for Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, claiming, “Lieberman has done every despicable act.”

      Erdogan ended his diatribe with a warning: “If these demands are not met, our relations will not return to what they were.”