In strong remarks against Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's recent criticism of Israel during an interview with CNN International, Israeli Foreign Minister Avidgor Lieberman accused Erdoğan's government of “supporting and nurturing terror.”
“Anyone who saw CNN yesterday saw Turkish Prime Minister Erdoğan once again verbally attack the state of Israel,” said Lieberman. “We have no problems with Turkey who, for years was a friendly country, we were partners and cooperated in a number of fields including defense and economy,” he was quoted as saying by Israel's Ynet website on Tuesday. "We certainly respect the Turkish nation and Turkey as a state, our problem is first and foremost with the current Turkish leadership -- the radical and extremist Islamist leadership that supports and nurtures terror,” he added.
Lieberman also argued that Erdoğan's appearance on CNN Sunday was “excellent” for Israel. “If you ask what we can do PR wise, I'd buy each and every media outlet and let Erdoğan speak all day and all night. Every time he speaks on TV he brings more support for the state of Israel,” he said.
During the CNN interview, Erdoğan said Turkey's relations with Israel will not normalize unless the current atmosphere changes considerably. “Turkish-Israeli relations are broken due to tension Israel itself escalated, which began with the Israeli raid on a flotilla carrying humanitarian aid to Gaza,” Erdoğan said.
The Turkish prime minister, known to be highly critical of Israel's policies regarding Palestine, said "Israel has killed hundreds of thousands of Palestinians," while Palestinian rockets and bombs have killed only a few Israelis. He also accused Israel of using the Holocaust to perpetuate the idea that “they are the victims all the time.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was highly critical of Erdoğan's CNN remarks, saying his claims are “outrageous and false.” “These are outrageous charges against Israel that have nothing to do with the facts,” Netanyahu told the Jerusalem Post.
Netanyahu argued that “Israel has lost thousands of its citizens to Palestinian terrorism, and certainly has not taken the lives of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians.” “I regret that we hear these statements from the leader of Turkey,” he added.
Regarding Erdoğan's comments about the Holocaust, Netanyahu said, “We don't use the Holocaust; the Holocaust was the worst crime in history perpetuated against our people.” “To hear this allegation at the beginning of the 21st century, just 60 years after Holocaust, is outrageous,” he added.
Relations between Turkey and Israel, two close US allies in the region, have soured since Israeli forces boarded the Gaza-bound Mavi Marmara aid ship in May 2010. Ankara downgraded ties and vowed to boost naval patrols in the Eastern Mediterranean in the escalating row. Turkey has demanded compensation and an apology from Israel regarding the deadly flotilla attack, but Israel refuses to do so.