Prime Minister's Office: Erdogan blaming Egypt turmoil on Israel is 'nonsense'

White House says statements "offensive, unsubstantiated, wrong."

By
August 20, 2013 22:47
4 minute read.
Turkey's Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan.

Tayyip Erdogan speaks with hands150. (photo credit: REUTERS/Murad Sezer )

 
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Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's office said on Tuesday that comments from Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan in which he blamed Israel for the military coup and crisis in Egypt have no validity.

An official from the Prime Minister's Office said the comments made by Erdogan were "nonsense."

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The United States responded to Erdogan's accusations on Tuesday, saying it "strongly condemns" the "offensive" comments.

"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.

State Department deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf on reiterated the comments and said the Turkish leader's comments harmed the diplomatic process going forward.

Erdogan told provincial leaders of his AK Party on Tuesday that his government had evidence Israel had a hand in events that led to the ouster of Mohammed Morsi, leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, from Egypt's presidency.

"What do they say in Egypt? Democracy is not the ballot box. What is behind it? Israel. We have in our hands documentation," Erdogan told provincial leaders of his AK Party on Tuesday.

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In the wake of the violence in Egypt last week— which led to the deaths of thousands of demonstrating civilians and the wounding of thousands more— Turkey called the incident a "massacre" at the hands of the Egyptian military.

Erdogan's rant was not worthy of a response, Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said Tuesday.

"This is a statement well worth not commenting on," Palmor said.

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,” Erdoğan 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 on the Arab Spring in June 2011 between Tzipi Livni, then the head of the opposition and today the Justice Minister, and French Jewish intellectual Bernard-Henri Levy.

Levy, 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.”

Levi said Hamas' 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,  Levy said: “I will urge the prevention of them coming to power, but by all sort 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 unrest in his own country on an “interest rate lobby," widely believed to be a metaphor for western Jewish businessmen.  He also likened Zionism in the past to fascism, and has routinely accused Israel of waging a campaign of “genocide” against Palestinians.

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 Erdoğan 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 tired 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 now wanted an Israeli admission that the compensation payments was 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.

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