Erdogan: Israeli elections paint bleak picture

Turkish PM: It is sad that Israelis voted for rightist parties; says Israel should lift Gaza blockade.

erdogan speaks to crowd 248.88 (photo credit: AP)
erdogan speaks to crowd 248.88
(photo credit: AP)
With the relations between Turkey and Israel already strained due to very public criticism by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan against Israeli policy in the Gaza Strip, the Turkish premier did little to diffuse the tension on Saturday, expressing a very pessimistic opinion about the results of the Israeli elections. "Unfortunately we have seen that the (Israeli) people have voted for these (rightist) parties and that makes me a bit sad," Erdogan told Reuters and two Turkish newspapers in an interview. "Unfortunately the election has painted a very bleak picture." Last Tuesday, the centrist Kadima party won 28 mandates in the election, followed closely by the Center-Right Likud party, which earned 27 seats. However, the right-wing parties combined secured more seats than those on the left, making the possibility of a rightist government likely. Erdogan, who has repeatedly condemned the Israeli blockade imposed on the Gaza Strip due to the continual rocket attacks against the western Negev, again called on Jerusalem to change its policy and lift the embargo. "With the ceasefire the embargo should be lifted," he told Reuters. "The Palestinian people should be freed from an open-air prison they are living in right now, this is against human rights." Turkey has traditionally been a close ally of Israel, and has played a large part recently in the peacemaking effort. Last July, it was revealed that the country had been moderating indirect negotiations between Israel and Syria. However, these negotiations were suspended after Israel launched Operation Cast Lead last December, and Erdogan downplayed the Turkish role in the talks on Saturday. "We were not the ones who wanted this negotiations role," he said. "In negotiations between Syria and Israel both countries wanted Turkey to be the mediator, that is why we took part in it. The same happened with the Israeli and Pakistani talks."