Thursday, February 11, 2010
Lieberman: Turkey cannot continue bashing Israel
The Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman has criticized Turkey's repeated condemnation of Israeli policies, claiming Ankara cannot continue bashing Tel Aviv at every opportunity it gets.
"Every week to sharply condemn Israel, to say Israeli military forces have carried out genocide, to call operations to protect our citizens a crime against humanity... This sharp anti-Israeli line cannot be repeated every week," the visiting Lieberman complained on Azerbaijan's Lidar television.
Relations between Tel Aviv and Ankara turned sour in 2009 after Israel launched a massive onslaught against the Gaza Strip that killed over 1,400 Palestinians, mostly civilians, and left thousands more injured.
The offensive drew sharp criticism from Turkey and prompted Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to lash out at Israel's President Shimon Peres at the World Economic Forum in Davos before storming out of the session.
"The recent changes in Turkey's foreign policy concepts were unexpected to us and not entirely clear. We are doing everything we can in order to preserve relations at the previous, very trustful level and to maintain close cooperation in all areas," Lieberman asserted on Tuesday. "We hope that Turkey from its side will make certain amendments to its foreign policy concept," he added.
The appeal by the hawkish Israeli minister for closer ties with Turkey comes despite a deepening division between the two military allies.
In January, Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon summoned the Turkish ambassador to Tel Aviv and made him sit in a lower chair than those of his own and three other Israeli officials confronting the Turkish envoy.
The humiliating meeting was further flavored with a deliberate absence of the Turkish flag. Ambassador Ahmet Oguz Celikkol was also spoken to in Hebrew and was refused a handshake.
The move irked officials in Ankara who denounced the "undiplomatic behavior" and demanded a formal apology from Tel Aviv.
"Israel should give some thought to what it would be like to lose a friend like Turkey in the future. The way they recently treated our ambassador has no place in international politics," Erdogan said on the future of Turkish-Israeli ties on January 31.
On Turkey's condemnation of the Israeli crimes during the Gaza war, the Turkish leader said his nation could not close its eyes on what it deemed as incompatible with human rights.