Israel’s War Against Palestine: Documenting the Military Occupation of Palestinian and Arab Lands

Turkey: World blamed Islam as Israel bombed Gaza

13 October 2009

By Barak Ravid and Anshel Pfeffer, Haaretz – 13 Oct 2009

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday accused the international community of shifting responsibility for the war in the Gaza Strip from Israel to Muslims.

His speech to the tURKISH Religious Council came amid increased tensions between Turkey and Israel, following Ankara’s last-minute decision to ban Israel from an international air force drill as a show of protest over the Gaza war.

The Turkish decision, announced on Sunday, led NATO countries to pull out of the exercise.

“People just watched from the comfort of their seats as phosphorus bombs rained on innocent children in Gaza,” The Turkish agency Sabah quoted Erdogan as saying. “In international platforms, efforts ensued to blame Islam for Islamic terror.”

“… When phosphorus bombs were rained on innocent children in Gaza, the whole world, all of humanity, watched from their comfortable chairs and their safe havens,” the Turkish prime minister said.

“However, as all this was happening, unfortunately from time to time in international discussion platforms, the term ‘Islamic terror’ began to be used, and efforts were made to place blame on the Muslims and Islam,” he said.

Israel’s opposition leader, Kadima Chairwoman Tzipi Livni, told Turkish state television in an interview broadcast on Monday that supporting the war on terror was not an anti-Palestinian act, but an anti-terrorism act.

The Kadima MK spoke a day after Turkey’s decision to bar Israel from participating in the international military exercise on Turkish soil.

In a message to the Turkish people, Livni urged Turkey to join the moderate elements in the region in the war on terror. The key issue facing the region today, said Livni, was the threat of extremism – not a bilateral crisis between Israel and Turkey.

“I am saying to the people of Turkey and their leaders: Supporting the war on terror is not an anti-Palestinian act – it is an anti-terrorism act,” said Livni. “Hamas does not represent the national aspirations of the Palestinians. It is not acting on their behalf or promoting them.”

The Turkish Foreign Ministry issued a sharp statement Monday in which it urged Israeli officials to use “common sense” in their statements about the current tension between the two countries.

In its statement the Turkish ministry said the “international part” of the “Turkish exercise” had merely been “postponed,” and “it is inappropriate to draw a political meaning and conclusion from the postponement.”

Therefore, it concluded, “it is impossible to accept the assessments and comments attributed to Israeli officials in the press. We invite Israeli officials to [use] common sense in their stance and statements.”

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, however, implied in an interview with CNN on Sunday that the cancelation was in fact political. “We hope that the situation in Gaza will be improved,” he said. “The situation will be back to the diplomatic track. And that will create a new atmosphere in Turkish-Israeli relations as well. But in the existing situation, of course we are criticizing this … Israeli approach.”

Meanwhile, Defense Minister Ehud Barak issued a statement Monday in which he urged Israeli officials to refrain from verbal assaults on Turkey.

“Israel’s relations with Turkey are strategic, and have existed for dozens of years,” he stressed. “Despite all the ups and downs Turkey continues to be a key player in our region.”

Other senior defense officials similarly tried to lower the flames. An Israel Defense Forces source said there was no change in Israeli-Turkish plans for other joint exercises and that both armies had common goals.

Defense officials insisted that the cancelation stemmed from the Turkish government’s domestic political needs and its foreign policy needs vis-a-vis Arab countries and did not reflect a change in the Turkish-Israeli strategic relationship.

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