Turkish president calls on Hamas to recognize Israel


JERUSALEM (JTA) — Hamas should recognize Israel’s right to exist, the president of Turkey, Abdullah Gul, told The Wall Street Journal.

Gul also called President Obama’s call to create a Palestinian state on pre-1967 borders with mutually agreed land swaps "a very important step," in an interview May 20 with The Wall Street Journal, a day after Obama’s major policy speech on the Middle East.

Gul told the newspaper that Obama "has a point" when he said last week that Israel should not be expected to negotiate with a group that does not recognize Israel’s right to exist. He said he has pressed Hamas on the issue, including in a 2006 meeting with top Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal in Ankara.

Hamas is ready to recognize Israel in pre-1967 borders, Gul said, but only at the same time that Israel recognizes a Palestinian state. 

Turkey accepted Hamas when it won elections in 2006 in Gaza. It broke with Israel over the Gaza war in 2008, and the relationship was strained further when nine Turkish citizens were killed in an Israeli commando raid on a ship attempting to break Israel’s naval blockade of Gaza.

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