Turkish defense of Gaza rattles Israel
Posted by Dion Nissenbaum
Tue Feb 3, 2009
The video below quickly became a YouTube sensation
Here is the link for the YouTube Video above:
Dion Nissenbaum is the McClatchy Newspapers Jerusalem bureau chief. He has also covered the war in Iraq, working as both an embedded reporter with the U.S. Marines and as a unilateral reporter based in Baghdad. In 2004, Nissenbaum helped cover the landmark Palestinian elections after the death of Yasser Arafat. Before being posted in the Middle East, he spent more than five years covering California politics for the San Jose Mercury News, where he won awards for his coverage of Arnold Schwarzenegger's historic run for governor.
It was a striking moment of diplomatic tension that played out on the world stage: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan walked off stage at the Davos World Economic Forum after chastising Israeli President Shimon Peres for the Gaza offensive.
"When it comes to killing, you know how to kill very well," Erdogan told Peres, wh o sat next to him on the s tage.
After being cut off by the moderator who was trying to bring the event to a close, Erdogan stormed off the stage.
After receiving a hero's welcome at home, Erdogan went farther in a follow-up interview in which he called Gaza an "open air prison" and sai d Israel had to talk to Ha mas.
Peres called Erdogan after the event and, while the Israeli president said that he issued no apology, the Turkish state-run news agency released what it said was a transcript of the call in which Peres apol ogized twice for the incide nt.
Now, an anonymous Israeli official is publicly dissing Erdogan and Turkey's central role in peace talks between Syria and Israel.
The anonymous Israeli government official told the AP that Turkey "won't be accepted as an honest broker" anymore.
"He won't be mediating anything any more," the official said.
It's not clear if the anonymous official is just letting off steam, trying to push back, or stating evolving policy.
Turkey has been working to position itself as a regional broker, and the Syria-Israel talks have been a major initiative.
Of course, Israeli voters head to the polls next week to choose a new government and, with the hawkish former PM Benjamin Netanyahu leading, substantive peace talks with Syria might not be on the agenda at all.
Meanwhile, the diplomatic dust-up seems to be playing out on other fields as well.
In a small Turkish city, a Turkish soccer player planted a Palestinian flag in the middle of the field at the end of a match.
And Israeli security officials have directed Israeli airlines not to fly to the Turkish resort city o f Antalya because local aut horities there aren't al lowing armed Israeli secur ity to enter.
Antalya's tourism industry, which relies heavily on Israeli visitors, is trying to entice Israeli tourists by offering special deals.