Recep Tayyip Erdogan
Recep Tayyip Erdogan Reuters

Despite Turkey’s reconciliation agreement with Israel, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan struck anything but a conciliatory tone in an interview with Channel 2 journalist Ilana Dayan which aired on Monday evening – his first with an Israeli media outlet since the agreement was announced in June.

Though he said that Israel and Turkey had made progress in normalizing ties, Erdogan refused to take back his past verbal attacks against Israel, including a statement that Israel’s attacks against terrorist targets in Gaza during Operation Protective Edge were more barbaric than Nazi leader Adolf Hitler’s actions.

“There were times that Gaza was bombarded. I cannot forget those moments when thousands of people were killed in these bombings. I do not agree with what Hitler did and I also do not agree with what Israel has done in Gaza. So there is no point in comparing who was more killed thousands of people in Gaza and Palestine,” he charged.

Erdogan also defended Hamas’s indiscriminate firing of rockets on civilian targets in Israel, and said he does not consider Hamas a terrorist organization.

“In my opinion, Hamas is not a terrorist organization. Hamas is a political movement born out of (national) resurrection. Until now you have been sitting with Mahmoud Abbas and Fatah, did you get any results? No you didn’t,” he said.

“I meet with Hamas all the time. I'm very open with these things, I have no hidden agenda,” continued the Turkish leader. “My desire is this: We must achieve peace in this region. If there is no peace in the region, it will be unfortunate.”

Erdogan also accused Israel of trying to take over the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem.

“Israel is making an effort to take over the Al-Aqsa Mosque, and that is unacceptable. First of all we must be vigilant that (Israel) will not be able to take over the place through archaeological excavations. Jerusalem is holy to three religions, and we all must respect that. (But) we are now experiencing a process of normalization of relations. I do not want to discuss these issues,” he said.

During the interview, Erdogan also said that the names of the Israelis being held by Hamas in Gaza – including the bodies of IDF soldiers Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul as well as Avraham Mengistu – did not come up in the reconciliation talks between Israel and Turkey.

The families of the three have expressed outrage over the fact that the agreement with Turkey did not include the return of the captives by Hamas.

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