[dehai-news] (BBC) Turkish PM storms off in Gaza row

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From: wolda002@umn.edu
Date: Fri Jan 30 2009 - 03:57:03 EST

Turkish PM storms off in Gaza row
Turkey's prime minister has stormed off the stage at the World Economic
Forum in Davos after a heated debate on Gaza with Israel's president.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan clashed with Shimon Peres, whose voice had risen as he
made an impassioned defence of Israel's actions, jabbing his finger.

Mr Erdogan said Mr Peres had spoken so loudly to conceal his "guilt".

He accused the moderator of not allowing him to speak and said he did not
think he would return to Davos.

The Turkish PM stressed later that he had left the debate not because of
his disagreements with Mr Peres but because he had been given much less
time to speak than the Israeli leader.

Turkey is one of the few Muslim countries to have dealings with Israel, but
relations have been under strain since the Islamist-rooted AK Party was
elected to power in 2002.

Late on Thursday, a WEF official said that Mr Peres and Mr Erdogan had
spoken by mobile telephone, and both men now considered the matter closed.

Dinner time

In the debate, Mr Erdogan was cut off as he attempted to reply to Mr Peres.

Earlier the Turkish Prime Minister had made an address himself, describing
Gaza as an "open-air prison".

When the audience applauded Mr Peres, he said: "I find it very sad that
people applaud what you said. You killed people. And I think that it is
very wrong."

The moderator, Washington Post columnist David Ignatius, had given him a
minute to reply, then asked him to finish, saying that people needed to go
to dinner.

"I do not think I will be coming back to Davos after this because you do
not let me speak," Mr Erdogan shouted before marching off the stage in
front of Mr Peres, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and an elite audience
of ministers and international officials.

Mr Peres had told the audience Israel was forced on to the offensive
against Hamas by thousands of rockets and mortars fired into Israel.

"The tragedy of Gaza is not Israel, it is Hamas," the Israeli leader said.

"Why did they fire rockets? There was no siege against Gaza. Why did they
fight us, what did they want? There was never a day of starvation in Gaza."

He argued that Mr Erdogan would have reacted in the same way if rockets had
hit Istanbul.

More than 1,300 Palestinians and 14 Israelis were killed during the
three-week conflict which began on 27 December.

At news conference later on Thursday, Mr Erdogan complained that he had
been allowed to speak just 12 minutes to 25 for Mr Peres.

"I did not target at all in any way the Israeli people, President Peres or
the Jewish people," he said.

"I am a prime minister, a leader who has specifically expressly stated that
anti-Semitism is a crime against humanity."

Story from BBC NEWS:

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