Addressing Israeli criticism of a recent visit to Turkey by Palestinian Hamas Party leader Khaled Meshal, the Turkish Foreign Ministry said Israel had made an ‘unfortunate statement’.
The Foreign Ministry statement challenged the statement by Israeli government spokesman Raanan Gissin on Turkish television that the Hamas-Turkey visit was comparable to Israel deciding to meet with Kurdish guerrilla groups from Turkey. "How would you feel if we got together with Abdullah Ocalan?" Gissin asked NTV, referring to the imprisoned leader of the outlawed Kurdish guerrilla group fighting for autonomy in Turkey’s southeast.
"We think the comparison in this statement is totally baseless and wrong," said the Turkish foreign ministry in response. "We relayed our discomfort and dissatisfaction with this statement to Israel yesterday." The ministry also suggested that the Israeli remarks were prompted by Israeli "domestic political concerns."
Hamas leader Khaled Meshal said he hopes that the Turkey meeting will act as a gateway for further meetings with the West, saying that Hamas has been ‘misunderstood’ by Western leaders.
"We hope after Turkey to go to other countries because we believe that most of the leaders in Europe, in the West, have an image about Hamas, a wrong image about Hamas, because this image doesn’t reflect us. It reflects how some people, especially Israel, see Hamas."
Meshal said he came to Turkey at the invitation of the ruling Justice and Development Party, AKP, though party leader and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan declined to meet with the Hamas delegation in Ankara.