Even as the EU canceled a parliamentary visit to Ankara scheduled for Wednesday,
and UN Secretary-General Ban Kimoon criticized Turkey for its handling of the
recent protests, embattled Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday
welcomed Hamas leaders Khaled Mashaal and Ismail Haniyeh for meetings in the
It was not immediately clear if the arrival of the Hamas
leaders was in lieu of a visit Erdogan has said he intended to make to
Shortly after Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu phoned Erdogan in
March to apologize for operational errors that might have caused loss of life on
the i, Erdogan announced he would visit Gaza in April. The planned visit, which
annoyed the US because it seemed to undermine the Palestinian Authority, was
then pushed off until after Erdogan’s mid-May visit to Washington.
date has yet been announced, although Erdogan has said he intends to go through
with the visit despite American objections.
Officials in both the Prime
Minister’s Office and the Foreign Ministry refrained from commenting on the
Hamas leaders visit to Ankara.
The Turkish daily Today’s Zaman said
Mashaal and Haniyeh were scheduled to meet Erdogan late Tuesday. The
“Palestinian Embassy” in Ankara told the paper they were not informed by either
Ankara or Hamas about the visit beforehand.
Today’s Zaman speculated that
the Hamas leaders were looking for Turkish help in reconciling differences
inside the organization between one camp interested in aligning itself with Iran
and Syria, and another which wanted to move closer to Qatar and Saudi
While Israel has been careful not to comment on either Erdogan’s
crackdown on the protests or at his hints of a Jewish conspiracy behind them,
the American Jewish Committee had no such compunctions, issuing a statement
saying it was “deeply dismayed” by comments of Erdogan and others in Turkey
suggesting Jews were behind the protests.
“Incendiary words have
consequences,” said AJC executive director David Harris, who urged Turkey’s
political leadership and media to end “the fictitious conspiracy
In a letter to Turkey’s ambassador to the United States,
according to an AJC statement, the organization expressed concern about
Erdogan’s “delusional prejudices” regarding Jews. Erdogan recently suggested
that unrest in Turkey could be attributed to “the interest-rate lobby,” a term
that has been associated in the Turkish media in the past with an alleged
conspiracy of Jewish businessmen.
“Whatever protests and opposition Prime
Minister Erdogan may face domestically, they are home-grown,” said
“To blame such disturbances on external forces and to resort to
age-old Jewish conspiracy canards is pure cowardice and runs the risk of
incitement. Erdogan should be called to task by responsible world leaders for
such crude tactics rather than facing up to the reality that a significant
segment of the Turkish public is challenging his increasingly authoritarian
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