World Bulletin / News Desk
Displaying the presence of Israel's Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman in the cabinet as a misfortune for the Israeli people, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan called on the Israelis to “get rid” of him.
Erdoğan's remarks from an interview with Al-Jazeera during a visit to Qatar earlier this week and excerpts from the interview found wide coverage in the Israeli media on Thursday.
Erdoğan reiterated that Turkey is firm in demanding an apology from Israel for a deadly commando raid on a Turkish aid ship in late May, as well as paying compensation to the families of eight Turkish and one American-Turkish civilians killed during the raid.
“As long as [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu's government does not change its policies, it cannot expect us to change ours,” Erdoğan was quoted as saying, as he noted that Turkey had no interest in renewing any of the accords it had signed with Israel and would consider refreshing relations once Israel acceded to its demands.
"Worst in Israel's history"
Netanyahu's government “is perhaps the worst in Israel's history, or at least the unluckiest,” Erdoğan said, while suggesting that the Israeli public should “get rid” of Lieberman. “He who attacks Turkey with such despicable words should look in the mirror to see a person responsible for all kinds of despicable acts,” Erdoğan said.
“It is up to them, not us” to unseat Lieberman, Erdoğan said, adding, “But it's clear that otherwise there will be no end to the troubles he causes the Israeli people.” Erdoğan was responding in particular to Lieberman's remarks delivered in late December as he dismissed the Turkish offer to restore ties if Israel apologizes for a deadly raid on a Gaza-bound ship, saying it was up to Ankara to make amends.
“I think the matter of an apology borders on chutzpah or beyond,” Lieberman had told Israeli diplomats in a speech attended by international media. “If anything, we are waiting for an apology from the Turkish government, and not the other way around.”
"Democracy without Hamas?"
Netanyahu, a right-winger, sits in an uneasy coalition with Lieberman's more hawkish party. The disagreements within the Israeli government have been cited by Ankara as another reason for the diplomatic deadlock.
Another highlight of Erdoğan's interview was his remarks saying that Palestinian group Hamas was not a terrorist group and its members were “people defending their land.”
Hamas had “not been given a chance,” he said. “Every possible hurdle had been placed before them. Its ministers and members of parliament have been imprisoned. What kind of democracy is that? It is completely contrary to democracy,” he added.
Recalling a meeting with Tony Blair, the special envoy for the Middle East Quartet, comprising the UN, the US, the EU and Russia, Erdoğan explained that he told Blair that Hamas must be recognized as a party to the conflict and an important factor in reaching a solution.
“Any negotiations which do not include Hamas representatives will not be productive. I told [Blair] that both Fatah and Hamas were important players in Palestine, and that their decision to relate to just one and ignore the other will not help the realization of the Palestinian vision,” Erdoğan said.
Hamas, a resistance group whose founding charter calls for liberation of occupied Palestinian lands from Israel, won a Palestinian parliamentary election in January 2006, defeating long-time rival Fatah. But the group was immediately cut off by Israel, the US and the EU, which regard it as a terrorist organization. However, peace negotiations that continued with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who heads Fatah, has gone to nowhere yet.
Last Mod: 13 Ocak 2011, 16:48