Erdogan cancels plans to visit Israel, refers to Hamas as 'liberators'
Erdogan's comments on Hamas spark controversy, with Israel ''wholeheartedly'' rejecting his words as an attempt to "defend" the group
Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Wednesday that he was cancelling a planned visit to Israel over what he called its "inhumane war'' against Hamas militants in Gaza.
"We had a project to go to Israel, but it was cancelled, we will not go," he told lawmakers in parliament. He did not clarify when the trip had been planned to take place.
"We have no problem with the Israeli state, but we never have, and never will, accept the atrocities committed by Israel," Erdogan told lawmakers from his party in Ankara.
He joined the chorus of international leaders calling for an immediate cease-fire. He also urged Muslim countries to work together to achieve lasting peace and called on world powers to pressure Israel into stopping its strikes on Gaza.
All sides must pull their fingers off the trigger, a cease-fire must be declared," he said.
Erdogan also referred to the Islamist group Hamas as a "liberation group" trying to "protect its land and citizens."
Hamas is designated a terrorist group by Israel, the European Union, Germany and the United States.
Turkey and Israel had been gradually improving their relations — Erdogan and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met at a UN summit in New York last month — but the Turkish president said Israel had "abused" Turkey's "good intentions."
"If he [Netanyahu] had continued with good intentions, our relations might have been different, but now, unfortunately, this will not happen either," Erdogan said.
Israel 'wholeheartedly rejects' Erdogan comments on Hamas
Israel said it "wholeheartedly rejects" comments made earlier by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in which he described the militant Hamas group as "liberators."
"Hamas is a despicable terrorist organization worse than ISIS [the so-called 'Islamic State'] that brutally and intentionally murders babies, children, women and the elderly, takes civilians hostage and uses its own people as human shields," said Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lior Haiat.
Haiat accused Erdogan of attempting to "defend" Hamas and using "inciting" words.
Hamas is designated a terrorist group by Israel, the European Union, Germany and the United States, among others.
Published: 26 Oct 2023, 11:17 AM