Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's aggressive rhetoric towards Israel continued Saturday, this time in an interview given to CNN in which he questioned the number of Israelis killed by rocket fire compared to the number of Palestinians that have been killed.
"Here's what is being said and this is upsetting to hear: (Israel) says that Palestine is bombing (it) and that many Israelis have been killed. I would like to see accurate statistics on how many Israelis have been killed by the bombs thrown by Palestinians or by the rockets that were launched by them – 10? 20? 100? 200? How many? Please document it and let us know!
"But on the other hand we know that hundreds of thousands of Palestinians have been killed. Thousands have been killed by the Gaza attack alone. These are very clear numbers," he said.
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In a shocking reference to the Holocaust, the Turkish prime minister said, "The Israeli people are always resorting back to the issue of genocide in history – they are always acting as if they are the victims.
"For that Germany has paid and is still paying… But neither Turkey nor the Muslims in the region… have ever exerted such cruelty on Israel, but Israel is very cruel in that regard. It shows no mercy."
"The Israeli acts are inexplicable. If you want normalization you have to take certain steps to restore peace and stop causing unrest," Erdogan said.
Erdogan also spoke about severing ties with Israel in the wake on the UN's Palmer Report – which probed the 2010 raid on a Gaza-bound flotilla – and said that "for the time being I can clearly state that the relations between Israel and Turkey have been broken on the basis of an issue… which began when a flotilla bearing humanitarian aid was trying to get to Gaza.
"It had passengers from 33 countries and was attacked both from the sea and from the air. At the end of these attacks, nine Turkish citizens died… Still, to this day, no serious attitude has been adopted against Israel for the lives lost there. We are very upset about this.
"In this situation, no matter who we are talking about, democracy, rights and freedom should be defended," he continued. "If liberty is in question it should be defended. We gave our warning to Israel – this is reason for war. This is something you cannot do in international waters. But as a great state we have been very forgiving.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaking before the UNGA (Photo: EPA)
"That's why we have been very patient. We demanded that they apologize, pay compensation and eliminate the embargo on Gaza once and for all. If these demands are not met, relations between Israel and Turkey will never become normal again.
"We have nothing against the people of Israel, (only) against the attitude adopted by the administration in Israel. If you are insistent on creating a source of unrest you are bound to become lonelier and lonelier. They used to be great friends of ours. This solitude is Israel's fate under these circumstances. Israel is going to be alone in the region," he warned.
As for the possibility of Turkish escorts for future flotillas to Gaza, Erdogan said: "It might be Gaza, it might be Egypt… but after such an incident took place there's lack of confidence in security, so these flotillas might be dispatched to wherever they are going with the escort of the navy. Because Israel cannot be trusted."
Asked about Turkey's past efforts on behalf of a regional peace deal and whether the Israeli government backed out of such a deal at the last minute, the Turkish premier said that Ankara had "conveyed its impressions to Mr. Obama… Turkey is very frank in its delivery and we stand behind our remarks.
"Israel was on the brink of agreeing to withdraw to the 1967 borders, a few remarks (in the draft) needed to be corrected and we were working on the documents, but not even a week later Gaza was attacked – Israel did that," he said.
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