Istanbul: Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused Israel of being a “terrorist state” on Monday and criticised world powers for supporting the weeklong bombardment of Gaza that has killed more than 100 people, signalling that the three-year-old rift between the countries is deepening.
Speaking in Istanbul after returning from Cairo, where he held talks on Gaza with Egyptian President Mohammad Mursi, Erdogan railed against what he called Western powers’ failure to take action to stop bloodshed in Syria. But he aimed harsher words at one-time ally Israel.
“Those who speak of Muslims and terror side-by-side are turning a blind eye when Muslims are massacred en masse,” he told a gathering of the Eurasian Islamic Council. “Those who turn a blind eye to discrimination toward Muslims in their own countries are also closing their eyes to the savage massacre of innocent children in Gaza. . . . Therefore, I say Israel is a terrorist state.”
The comments mark a recent low in relations between Turkey and Israel, which have been strained since Israel’s 2008 offensive in Hamas-controlled Gaza.
Erdogan’s comments appear to pour cold water on the prospect of a thaw between Washington’s two top allies in the region. Recent reports in the Turkish media suggested the two sides were making headway on repairing ties.