In These New Times

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Erdogan: Israel biggest threat to peace in ME

Posted by seumasach on April 7, 2010


7th April, 2010

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan says Israel is the greatest threat to regional peace in the Middle East as bilateral relations between Ankara and Tel Aviv further deteriorates.

“If a country uses disproportionate force in Palestine, in Gaza, uses phosphorous shells, we’re not going to say bravo,” he said during a visit to Paris on Wednesday.

The Turkish leader was referring to three weeks of Israeli air strikes and a ground incursion into the Gaza Strip between late December 2008 and early January 2009 that killed 1,400 Palestinians, mostly civilians, and injured 5,450 others.

Erdogan said Israel’s justification for the offensive was based on “lies,” citing the 575-page UN-mandated ‘Goldstone report’ on the Gaza offensive that details what investigators have described as Israeli actions “amounting to war crimes, possibly crimes against humanity.”

“Goldstone is a Jew and his report is clear,” the Turkish prime minister told reporters at the Paris Ritz. “It’s not because we are Muslims that we take this position. Our position is humanitarian. It’s Israel that is the principal threat to regional peace.”

Erdogan’s statements came a day after Turkey condemned remarks by an Israeli official comparing him to the Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

“Lieberman’s remarks are beyond the limits, inappropriate, and impertinent and bear no truth. Turkey calls on Israel to trade their meaningless and unacceptable attitude for common sense,” Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman Burak Ozugergin said on Tuesday.

In an interview with Israel’s Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper on Tuesday, Israel’s hawkish Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman claimed that Erdogan is turning into Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi or Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. “It’s his choice. The problem is not Turkey; the problem is Erdogan.”

Erdogan recently told the French newspaper Le Figaro that Israel is not serious about establishing peace and all evidence indicates that Israel is pushing the region toward war not peace. The Turkish prime minister also reiterated that Israel is widely believed to possess the only nuclear arsenal in the Middle East.

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