Turkey will continue to criticize its ally Israel with "courage" if it engages in "mistakes", Turkish President Abdullah Gül said Sunday, continuing the verbal sparring between the two countries over the situation in Gaza.
Turkey is one of the "rare" countries to have good relations with both Arab countries and Israel, Gul said during an interview with public teleivision TRT.
"But this does not mean that Turkey will not raise its voice against errors if they are made. We should not think that Turkey will keep silent," he said.
Gul was apparently referring to Israel's massive military operation in Gaza last winter, which was strongly criticized by Turkey.
The head of the Turkish state defended the position of the Islamo-conservative government, to which he belonged before being elected president in 2007.
Turkey "courageously" criticizes Israeli policies against the Palestinians, but "this is not likely to shake the foundations" of bilateral relations, said the president.
Relations between Israel and Turkey, which are strategic allies, have deteriorated significantly since January, when Turkey strongly criticized the operation in Gaza.
They experienced a new outbreak last week, when the Turkish government froze Israel out of a joint air force drill in Turkey.
Later, Israel strongly criticized a series broadcast on Turkish television, which shows Israeli soldiers deliberately killing Palestinian children.
On Friday, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said linked improved relations with Israel to the end of the "humanitarian tragedy" in Gaza.
And yet on Saturday, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused Israel of "persecuting" the Palestinians.