Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan hosted Hamas Politburo Chief Khaled Mashaal and Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi at a major congress of his ruling party on Sunday. The three leaders pledged joint opposition to Israel and Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime.
Erdogan went as far as to blast Israel's "state terrorism," while Mashaal asserted that "resistance" is the only way to get is the Jewish state to back down from the "occupation."
- Morsi to UN: End Israeli occupation
Report: Turkish pilots killed by Assad, not crash
Report: Hamas chief wants to step down
The Hamas leader, who received a standing ovation, said that his movement is committed to the liberation of Palestine and the creation of a Palestinian state. He did not address his decision to step down from his position as the group's politburo chief.
Mashaal, Erdogan in Ankara (Photo: AP)
"We are committed to liberating our land and taking back Jerusalem, dismantling the settlements and bringing back refugees, freeing the prisoners jailed by the Zionist occupier and establishing a real Palestinian state, with true sovereignty in spite of the enemy," he said.
Mashaal stressed that "resistance" is the only means towards reinstating the Palestinians' rights. He said that all other international attempts to press Israel to back down have failed.
Mashaal's address underlined the deterioration in the ties between Ankara and Jerusalem. Erdogan's willingness to buddy up to Mashaal in front of the cameras on Sunday marked a stark shift from six years ago, when the Turkish leader refused to meet the Hamas chief during the latter's trip to Ankara.
Morsi spoke before the congress as well, amid signs that a partnership between Egypt and Turkey is emerging, and said they both plan to stand by Palestinians and the Syrian people.
Morsi at congress (Photo: AP)
"Our common goal is to support other people who are standing up against their administrations or regimes, to support Palestine and the Syrians in their efforts," Morsi said.
"The events in Syria are the tragedy of the century," Morsi said. "We will be on the side of the Syrian people until the bloodshed ends, the cruel regime is gone and Syrian people reach their just rights."
Erdogan slams Israeli 'terrorism'
In his speech to the congress, which marked the ruling Justice and Development party's decade in power, Erdogan promised that Turkey is determined to speak out against what he called Israel's "state terrorism" in the region and praised Morsi for his support to Palestinians.
"Through Morsi's leadership, our Palestinian brothers in Gaza and in all other Palestinian cities are able to breathe easily," he said.
Erdogan said Turkey would not reconcile with former ally Israel until it lifts its blockade of Gaza and apologizes for an attack in 2010 that killed nine mostly Turkish pro-Palestinian activists in a raid on a flotilla that tried to breach the blockade.
Morsi with Erdogan. Emerging partnership? (Photo: AP)
Israel has refused to apologize but has expressed regret for the loss of lives. It insists troops opened fire after coming under attack by activists.
Erdogan further pledged that Turkey, which is host to some 88,000 Syrian refuges as well as Syrian opposition groups, would continue to support both the the Syrian people wanting to oust the Assad regime.
He appealed to Russia, China and Iran to stop backing the regime.
"We call on Russia, China as well as Iran: please review your stance. History will not forgive those who stand together with cruel regimes," he said.
Mashaal did not ignore the civil war in Syria, saying that Hamas lauds the Syrian people's uprising.
"There is no contradiction in our adoption of democracy and reform, and our support of the resistance," he said.
AP contributed to the report
- Receive Ynetnews updates
directly to your desktop