Turkey raps Israel on Gaza, to discuss with U.S., Egypt

ISTANBUL Fri Nov 16, 2012 1:47pm GMT

ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan decried Israeli's air strikes on Gaza on Friday as a pre-election stunt and said he would discuss the crisis with Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi in Cairo this weekend.

Under Erdogan's Islamist-rooted AK Party, Turkey has sought to use its clout as a rising democratic power in the Muslim world to increase its influence in the Middle East, distancing itself from former ally Israel.

Erdogan said he would speak by phone with U.S. President Barack Obama later on Friday and that Ankara was also seeking talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin amid the prospect of a full Israeli ground invasion.

The United States says it has asked Turkey and Egypt to encourage the Islamist Hamas movement that rules Gaza to cease rocket fire into Israel, but Erdogan laid the blame for the deepening crisis firmly on the Jewish state.

"Before this election they (Israel) shot these innocent people in Gaza for reasons they fabricated," he told reporters in Istanbul. "The dominant world powers are now making the Gaza people and fighters pay, and as the Republic of Turkey we are with our brothers in Gaza and their just cause."

Relations between Turkey - once Israel's only Muslim ally - and the Jewish state have crumbled since Israeli marines stormed a Gaza-bound aid ship in 2010 to enforce a naval blockade of the Gaza Strip, killing nine Turks in clashes with activists on board.

This week, two days of relentless Israeli air strikes on Gaza and the drafting of reserve troops have raised fears of a full ground invasion in an attempt to end militant rocket salvoes, a few of which have crashed near Israel's biggest city Tel Aviv for the first time.

Twenty-two Palestinians have died in the air strikes since Wednesday. Three Israelis were killed by a rocket on Thursday.

The Gaza conflagration has fanned the fires of a Middle East aflame with two years of Arab revolution and a civil war in Syria that threatens to spill beyond its borders.

"I hope (a) decision of the U.N. Security Council and the attitude of the dominant powers will end Israel's offensive attitude," Erdogan said.

"We don't have any relations with Israel left. The countries which have relations with Israel should talk to them."

(Reporting by Seda Sezer; Writing by Matt Robinson; Editing by Nick Tattersall and Mark Heinrich)

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Comments (5)
usagadfly wrote:
The situation is rather dangerous, not least because it is so easy to write this off as yet another of the endless attacks between the Muslims and the Jews in Palestine.

One day something very serious will happen. Will it come before each side is nuclear armed enough to assure mutual destruction? If the Muslims obtain nuclear weapons will the Jews believe it before one of their major population centers is nuked? Is it possible for these people to treat one another with respect? Is it possible that they all can pay for their own keep without sucking the blood out of America? Is it possible for politicians in our highly corrupt system to actually put enough pressure on Israel to get them to compromise? Or will it be a fight to the death?

Nov 16, 2012 2:34pm GMT  --  Report as abuse
lovehurts wrote:
Erdogan won’t attack Syria, even though Syria’s government massacres its own people by the hundreds, if not, thousands, daily. What can he offer to Gaza and Israel if he’s unwilling to defend other Arabs on his own border? If Erdogan wants to legitimize attacking Israel or to even broker a peace agreement, perhaps he should work on his own border instead and help his fellow Arabs to get along and find peace with each other. Right now, he’s just another bully in the playpen pinning blame on a group while both are guilty. Erdogan needs to lead. Instead, he is jumping on a dogmatic, populistic bandwagon. Erdogan wants to be seen as an influential democratic Muslim powerhouse. Well, he needs to stop sounding like Morsi or Ahmadinejad. Then maybe we’ll listen.

Nov 16, 2012 3:27pm GMT  --  Report as abuse
Butch_from_PA wrote:
Turkey is the most heavily armed and most Democratic country in the region. When I say Democratic – I mean citizens of all faiths can get a Turkish passport and become members their parliament.

For now it is all bark. If they engage in this Palestinian/Jewish domestic dispute – it will be political suicide for Netanhayu. This latest show of force before the election will backfire on Netanyahu.

He will then be relegated to a media clown making public appearances with the likes of Sarah Palin on talk radio.

Nov 16, 2012 9:21pm GMT  --  Report as abuse
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