Israel’s goal to destroy Hamas or expel the Palestinian militants from Gaza is unattainable, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Saturday, as the fighting in the Middle East has resumed following a brief truce.
“The Western countries that support Israel, especially the United States and the United Kingdom, always bring up the question ‘What are we going to do about the threat of Hamas?’ instead of looking at the two-state [solution],” Erdogan told reporters on a flight from Dubai, where he attended a climate conference.
“Our answer is: If we put the analysis based on the two-state [solution] in the center, the issues of Gaza and mutual threats will essentially disappear. That is how we need to deal with it.”
“The exclusion and destruction of Hamas is not a realistic scenario,” the Turkish leader added.
Erdogan has strongly condemned Israel’s bombardment of the Gaza Strip and the Jewish state’s “uncompromising approach” for the demise of a weeklong truce with the Palestinian militants, which expired on Friday. He also repeatedly refused to label Hamas a “terrorist group” and has instead called Israel “a terror state.”
Israel, meanwhile, accused Ankara of backing the militants. “We will free Gaza from Hamas, for the sake of Israel’s security and to create a better future for the residents of the region,” Foreign Minister Eli Cohen wrote on X (formerly Twitter) on Saturday. “You [Turkish presidency] are welcome to host in your country Hamas terrorists who aren’t eliminated and flee from Gaza.”
Israeli army Chief of Staff Lieutenant General Herzi Halevi reiterated on Tuesday that the IDF is ready to “dismantle” Hamas. “It will take time, these are complex goals, but they are justified beyond measure,” he said.
The latest round of violence in the Middle East erupted on October 7 following a major attack by the Palestinian armed group Hamas, which left some 1,200 Israelis dead. Retaliatory airstrikes and ground operations by Israel have killed over 15,000 Palestinians, according to Hamas-controlled authorities in Gaza.