Today's date:
Spring 2006

Some Advice to Hamas

Recep Tayyip Erdogan is the Islamist prime minister of Turkey. His comments are adapted from a talk with NPQ editor Nathan Gardels at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, on Friday, Jan. 27.

Davos—Hamas has won the election. We should respect the decision of the Palestinian people whether we like it or not. If those of us from outside react with prejudice, that would harm democracy.

Both Hamas and Israel must leave behind old habits in order for the democratic process to take its course. It is important for both Israelis and Hamas to accept that there must be a Palestinian and an Israeli state side by side. Hamas must understand that not recognizing Israel will be very unhelpful in its future international relations. In the same way, it is wrong for Israel to say it does not recognize the results of the election.

Because of Turkey’s past good relations with both Israel and the Palestinians, we can take on a mediating role between the new players. I have discussed this mediating role with Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, and we think that the Organization of the Islamic Conferences [the organization of all Islamic states—ed.] can take on an important role here.

Hamas should give up its past practices. It will be governing a state now. And in a state it is clear who has the arms and who does not: Only the security forces should be armed. All of us who talk to Hamas must emphasize this point.

Through this process, I believe Hamas will move toward the center. Extremism is not going to benefit anybody.

It is the wrong approach to reject dialogue with Hamas. The party of Hamas is not the same as the government of Hamas. An election has taken place and that will change Hamas, and it will change how the world must deal with Hamas. I am of the opinion that the Hamas of the past and Hamas now are not the same thing because now their responsibilities are very different.

We all should allow some time to see what Hamas does. Let’s have a little patience.