ISTANBUL (JWN) –Turkish President Abdullah Gül declared Thursday that Israel is “an ungrateful burden to its allies,” according to a report in the Turkish newspaper Hurriyet Daily News.
Speaking at a press conference before departing for a conference in Russia, Gül said Israel had offered to apologize “four times” for the May 2010 Mavi Marmara incident, but has still failed to do so. In the incident, nine Turkish citizens on the blockade-running ship were killed when they assaulted Israel Navy commandos enforcing Israel’s naval blockade of the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip.
Gül declared that Israel should try to reach an “honorable peace” with its Arab neighbors and stop acting
as if the world, especially Turkey, owes it favors, the paper said.
The Turkish president questioned Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s popularity in Israel, saying he does not receive as warm a welcome to his own Knesset as he does when he speaks before the US Congress, apparently referring to a speech Netanyahu gave in the United States earlier this summer.
Gül’s comments followed accusations by Israeli authorities that some 40 Israeli tourists had been singled out and deliberately humiliated during especially stringent security checks this week at Istanbul’s Kemal Ataturk International airport. Although this incident was being considered as another example of the deterioration in relations between Israel and Turkey, Gül said the breakdown of ties is not being directed against individuals. Both countries have recalled their ambassadors.
He also reiterated Turkey’s plans to ask the International Criminal Court to determine the legality of the weapons blockade on the Gaza Strip. Gül pointed out that Turkey had rejected the UN’s Palmer Report, which last week affirmed Israel’s right of self-defense to blockade weapons from reaching Hamas-controlled Gaza.