Earthtimes (press release), UK
Jan 30 2009

Erdogan's fiery remarks hurting Turkish-Israeli ties - Feature

Posted : Fri, 30 Jan 2009 09:59:55 GMT
Author : DPA

Ankara - Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been one of
the harshest critics of Israel's recent military operations in the
Gaza Strip but he surprised all observers with his remarkably fiery
remarks made Thursday night at a panel discussion with Israel's
President Shimon Peres. "You (Israel) know very well how to kill
people," an enraged Erdogan said to Peres at the World Economic Forum
in Davos, Switzerland. "Your raising your voice (to me) shows the
psychology of the guilty."

"You killed people," Erdogan said, adding "the Sixth Commandment says,
'Thou shall not kill.'"

After being cut off by the moderator and complaining that Peres had
been allowed more time to speak, Erdogan stormed out of the panel
discussion saying "for me Davos is finished."

Word of Erdogan's explosive speech spread quickly in Turkey and
thousands of people gathered at Istanbul's Ataturk Airport in the
early hours of Friday morning to welcome home what one banner
described as "the conquer of Davos."

From the first day of Israel's military offensive in Gaza Erdogan has
been a loud critic, condemning Israel's "disproportionate use of
force," saying the operation was a "crime against humanity" and a
"stain on history's page."

The prime minister's forceful statements and anti-Semitism on show at
protests around Turkey were enough to alarm US Jewish lobbying groups
to issue a public appeal to Erdogan.

"Our Jewish friends in Turkey feel besieged and threatened. A
connection is clearly perceived between the inflammatory denunciation
of Israel by Turkish officials and the rise of anti-Semitism," the
leaders of five US Jewish lobby groups said in an open letter to

At various protests around Turkey demonstrators have shouted
anti-Israel and anti-Jewish slogans. A group of nationalists in
Eskisehir made headlines when they hung a sign outside their office
which read "dogs allowed, Armenians and Jews cannot enter."

Facing increased criticism from abroad as well as from liberals in the
Turkish press, Erdogan in recent days had toned down his remarks and
has specifically condemned anti-Semitism.

In an attempt to distance the government from its perceived pro- Hamas
line, Foreign Minister Ali Babacan earlier this week told reporters
that Hamas needed to decide whether it wants to be an armed group or a
political party. It was a line that Erdogan repeated Thursday night in

In recent years Turkey has attempted to use its position in having
good ties with both Israel and its fellow Muslim nations in the Middle
East to play the role of mediator but Erdogan's statements appear to
have undermined that aim.

"We have lost the impartiality we had between Hamas and Fatah, as well
as between Syria and Israel," retired diplomat Inal Batu was quoted in
Hurriyet newspaper on Friday.

After their heated debate Thursday night Peres telephoned Erdogan and
apologized for raising his voice. Erdogan in turn has said that his
walking out of the debate was in protest at the moderator, not at
Peres. The diplomatic spinning has started but there is no doubt that
Turkish-Israeli ties have been hurt. 445,erdogans-fiery-remarks-hurting-turkish-israeli -ties--feature.html