Erdogan pokes at Israel in reaction to protests

Jerusalem officials refrain from responding to jab by Turkish PM who reportedly implied Israel is "delighted" by protests.

June 13, 2013 21:24
2 minute read.
Turkey's Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan.

Tayyip Erdogan with flags 370. (photo credit: REUTERS/Umit Bektas )


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Israeli diplomatic officials refrained Thursday from responding to a jab by embattled Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan who reportedly implied that Israel was delighted by the protests roiling his country.

The Hurriyet Daily News reported that Erdogan, during a meeting with the chairman of the Confederation of Turkish Craftsmen and Tradesmen, said that foreign elements were involved in the two-week old Gezi Park protests.

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"Those against whom we said 'one minute' are now delighted," he was quoted as saying.

"One minute" is a reference to when Erdogan verbally lashed out at President Shimon Peres at the Davos Economic Summit in 2009 following Operation Cast Lead, before angrily stalking off the stage in a move that catapulted him to enormous popularity in the Arab world.

When the moderator of the panel, Washington Post columnist David Ignatius, tried to cut Erdgoan's comments short, the Turkish Prime Minister angrily said, "One minute... one minute… one minute… Don’t interrupt me. You are not allowing me to speak.”

A month later, the Turkish Daily Today's Zaman reported that this was "perhaps the most memorable thing about that historic night in Davos." The paper reported that it triggered "a 'one minute 'frenzy in Turkey, making it the subject of jokes, cartoons and headlines from newspaper columns, as well as inspiration for song lyrics, commercial slogan, computer games and even the name of a web site." According to Hurriyet, Erdogan said on Thursday that "we had foreseen these events [the protests] as a series of conspiracies three months ago," even if the way in which the events unfolded was not predicted. "We had received some intelligence reports," he said.

Israeli officials' disinterest Thursday in responding to Erdogan's comments reflected the policy that has governed Israel's approach to the events unfolding in Turkey: stay completely out of them. Indeed, senior Israeli officials have avoided commenting on the events in Taksim Square, even as other countries have denounced Erdogan's use of force against the protestors.

Another element surprising in Erdogan's comments were that they came just a day after Hurriyet reported that Mossad head Tamir Pardo was in Turkey on Monday.

According to Hurriyet, Pardo met secretly with the Turkish intelligence agency’s undersecretary, Hakan Fidan, and discussed the situation in Syrian and Iran. The report claimed that Pardo requested a meting with Erdogan, who has not yet responded.

While some saw in Pardo's reported visit signs of a desire by both sides to increase defence and security ties in the wake of the current events in Syria, others in Jerusalem saw in Erdogan's "one minute" comment an indication of a relentless enmity toward Israel.

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