Turkish premier storms out of Davos after run-in with Israeli president
At the World Economic Forum in Davos, Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan Thursday, Jan. 29, reproached Israeli president Shimon Peres over the Gaza offensive, saying “You kill people,” continuing the abuse he has leveled against Israel in recent weeks.
Israeli president Shimon Peres said, raising his voice, Israel’s 22-day offensive was launched in reaction to eight years of rocket fire. Turning to Erdogan, who had said Israel had made Gaza an “open air prison,” Peres asked: “Why did they fire rockets? There was no siege against Gaza. There was never a day of starvation in Gaza.”
The former Norwegian prime minister, Khell Magne Bondevik, said he had never seen Shimon Peres so passionate. I think he felt Israel was being attacked by so many in the international community. He felt isolated.”
The Turkish premier stalked out of the forum when the moderator, Washington Post columnist David Ignatius, cut him short when he tried to reply. He complained Peres had spoken for 25 minutes while he had been allotted only 12 and shouted: “I remember two former prime ministers in your country who said they felt very happy when they were able to enter Palestine on tanks.” He went on to protest the applause Peres had won: “You are applauding killing and war!”
Arab League secretary Amr Mussa said Erdogan’s action in leaving the hall was understandable. Of Israel, he said: “They don’t listen.”
Peres read out passages from the Hamas charter which call for Israel’s destruction. “I want to see what you would do if rockets landed on Istanbul every night. What would you say to the mothers?” he asked the Turkish prime minister. Since 2000, more than a thousand Israelis have been killed in terrorist attacks and more than 5,500 rockets have been dropped on Israel.”
He again raised his voice when he said: “You talk about a non-existent reality and I am telling the truth. Can you understand a million people living in shelters? Are you mad? I cannot accept lies. Mubarak accused Hamas and he knows the situation as well as you, Mr. Erdogan. Hamas fired out of kindergartens and schools. How could we not respond?”
“All Peres said was a lie. It was unacceptable,” said Erdogan as he left. He warned there would be repercussions on relations between Turkey and Israel. “I am a prime minister and no one shouts at me,” he said.
The Israeli leader later called the Turkish premier and they agreed the incident would not affect relations between their countries.