Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s rant that Israel was behind the overthrow of president Mohamed Morsi in Egypt was not worthy of a response, Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said Tuesday.
“This is a statement well worth not commenting on,” Palmor said.
Another Israeli official said he had a one word response for Erdogan: “Nonsense.”
The Turkish premier, who has a history of anti-Israeli and anti-Semitic remarks, blamed Israel on Tuesday for the events that brought about Morsi’s ouster.
“Who is behind [the ouster]? There is Israel,” Erdogan said at a meeting of his AK Party in Ankara. “We have [a] document in our hands.”
The document, it emerged, was a video of a discussion held at Tel Aviv University in June 2011 on the Arab Spring between Tzipi Livni, then the head of the opposition and today the Justice Minister, and French-Jewish intellectual Bernard-Henri Lévy.
Lévy, during the symposium, said, “If the Muslim Brotherhood arrives in Egypt, I will not say democracy wants it, so let democracy progress. Of course not.
Democracy, again, is not only elections, it is also values.”
Lévy said Hamas’s takeover of Gaza “was [a] putsch, a coup; a democratic coup, but a coup. Hitler in 1933 was a coup; a democratic coup, but a coup.”
Asked by the moderator,former New York Times Jerusalem correspondent Ethan Bronner, whether he would urge Egypt’s military to intervene against the Muslim Brotherhood if they would win a legitimate election, Lévy said: “I will urge the prevention of them coming to power, but by all sorts of means.”
Citing this discussion, Erdogan said, “‘The Muslim Brotherhood will not be in power even if they win the elections, because democracy is not the ballot box.’ This is what they said at that time.”
Erdogan’s comments come just a few weeks after he blamed the unrest in his own country on an “interest rate lobby,” widely believed to be a metaphor for Western Jewish businessmen.
He likened Zionism in the past to fascism, and has routinely accused Israel of waging a campaign of “genocide” against Palestinians.
The United States condemned comments by Erdogan, a White House spokesman said on Tuesday.
“We strongly condemn the statements that were made by Prime Minister Erdogan today. Suggesting that Israel is somehow responsible for recent events in Egypt is offensive, unsubstantiated, and wrong,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters in a briefing.
Even Turkey’s Hurriyet Daily News seems to be tiring somewhat of Erdogan’s anti-Israel rants and conspiracy theories. The lead to an article on Erdogan’s comments Tuesday that appeared on the paper’s website began with the words, “Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan went back on the warpath August 20, accusing one of Ankara’s most prominent bogeymen, Israel, of complicity in overthrowing Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi.”
Erdogan’s comment Tuesday came some five months after Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu – at the behest of US President Barack Obama – phoned the Turkish prime minister and apologized for operational errors that may have led to loss of life on the Mavi Marmara ship that tried to break the naval blockade of Gaza in 2010.
While that apology was supposed to have paved the way for an Israeli-Turkish reconciliation, talks for compensation payments quickly bogged down as the Turks added that they wanted an Israeli admission that the compensation payments were the result of a wrongful act.
Expectations that the apology would lead relatively quickly to the exchange of ambassadors failed to materialize.
What the apology did do, one Israeli official said Tuesday, was remove US pressure on Israel to reconcile with Turkey, since in the eyes of the US, Netanyahu did what he needed to do.
Jerusalem Post staff and Reuters contributed to this report.