Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan called Israel a terrorist state because of its offensive in Gaza and said he does not trust the United Nations because it lacks a Muslim voice.
Some delegates listening to Erdogan speak at an Islamic conference in Istanbul today burst into applause when he attacked Israel and accused the UN of bias. Turkey is one of a number of Islamic states seeking to broker a cease-fire in the Gaza Strip and end exchanges of fire that have killed 96 Palestinians and three Israelis since last week.
“Israel is a terrorist state,” Erdogan said. He also accused the West of ignoring the “sufferings of Muslims in Palestine, Syria and Myanmar because of lack of oil” and said the UN was merely watching the killings in Syria.
Inter-government ties between Turkey and Israel, once a close military ally, have been strained since an Israeli raid left nine Turks dead on a Gaza-bound aid ship in 2010. On Nov. 6, Islamist demonstrators cheered as a Turkish court began the trial in absentia of four Israeli officers accused of ordering the raid. Even so, trade between the countries has flourished, reaching a record $4.4 billion last year, up from $2.6 billion in 2009, according to official Turkish data.
While Hamas is considered a terrorist group by Israel, the U.S. and the European Union, Erdogan’s government has cultivated diplomatic relations with the group.
Some Turkish television stations that support Erdogan’s Islamic-rooted government have been repeatedly broadcasting images of Palestinian children killed or wounded by Israeli attacks.
Turkey’s foreign minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, will visit Gaza tomorrow along with foreign ministers from the Arab League, Davutoglu’s office said today.
Erdogan also said the UN fails to work for world peace and does not represent all faiths. “No Islamic country is represented at the Security Council,” he said.
While there are three Islamic states on the Security Council -- Morocco, Pakistan and Azerbaijan -- there are no Muslim states among the permanent membership of China, Russia, the U.S., France and Britain.
Germany’s Defense Minister Thomas de Maiziere meanwhile said that Turkey was poised to seek North Atlantic Treaty Organization support for the stationing of Patriot missile batteries on its border with Syria, the Associated Press reported.
Erdogan also urged Islamic countries to overcome differences based on sects and unite under Islam, pointing out such divisions as the underlying factor in the civil conflict in Syria.
To contact the reporter on this story: Selcan Hacaoglu in Ankara at firstname.lastname@example.org
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andrew J. Barden at email@example.com