Friday, October 7, 2011

Turkey: Nuclear Israel is a 'threat' to Middle East

Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Turkish prime minister, escalated his war of words with Israel yesterday by claiming that the Jewish state poses a "threat" to the Middle East because of its undeclared nuclear capabilities.

Launching one of his bluntest attacks yet in his increasingly outspoken feud with Israel, the Turkish leader also accused Benjamin Netanyahu's government of "state terrorism" for its military incursions into Gaza in the past five years.

"Tens of thousands of Palestinians have been killed from bombs that have rained down on them from Israel," he said during an official visit to South Africa. "You sleep at night peacefully and secure, yet Palestinians can't find a single trace of peace in Palestine."

Mr Erdogan's broadside comes a month after Turkey retaliated against Mr Netanyahu's refusal to apologise for Israel's deadly raid on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla in May, 2010 by expelling the Israeli ambassador to Turkey.

The diplomatic crisis worsened after Mr Erdogan announced plans to step up Turkish naval patrols in the Mediterranean and signalled his intention to counter Israel's offshore gas exploration.

Mr Erdogan has been a longstanding critic of Israeli policies in Gaza and while his latest comments will deepen irritation in the Netanyahu administration, they will also come as no surprise.

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