Israel has restrained itself in reacting to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s anti-Israel diatribes in the run-up to Sunday’s Turkish presidential election, but will respond to them if they continue after the vote, Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman told US Secretary of State John Kerry on Thursday.
Liberman, who thanked Kerry for Washington’s unstinting support at the UN on Wednesday that prevented a binding anti-Israel resolution regarding the Gaza conflict from passing in the Security Council, said Israel was not interested in escalating the situation with Turkey.
“Until now we have shown restraint at his rants,” Liberman said, adding that Israel hoped Erdogan’s harangues would end by the time of the election. “If that does not happen, Israel will respond,” he said.
Liberman’s spokesman declined to expand on what the Foreign Ministry had in mind.
Erdogan, who has a record of making virulent anti-Israel and anti-Semitic statements, has pounded Israel during the current crisis at campaign rallies, variously saying that Israel was engaged in genocide and was worse than Hitler.
This is the second time in just over two weeks that Kerry has heard Israeli leaders sound off against Erdogan’s anti-Semitic comments, with Netanyahu telling the secretary of state on July 20 that Erdogan’s anti-Semitic comments profaned the memory of the Holocaust.
Netanyahu was responding to an Erdogan comment at a campaign rally, where he said that “those who condemn Hitler day and night have surpassed Hitler in barbarism.”
Meanwhile, Finance Minister Yair Lapid called on Israelis to forgo vacations abroad this year, especially to Turkey, and take their vacations in Israel. “We have a beautiful country with wonder tourist service. Instead of the money going to Turkey, it should go to help Israeli business and the creation of jobs for Israelis,” he said at a press conference.
Lapid’s words about Turkey are apparently falling on attentive ears. According to a recent poll published in Ynet, some 84 percent of Israelis said they would not travel to the country now, and another 9% said they would do so only after Netanyahu and Erdogan reconcile. Only 4% said they would travel to Turkey at the present time and without any connection to the current diplomatic-security situation, and another 3% said they would travel there only after the quiet returns to Israel.