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Jerusalem Post: Erdogan blames Israel for Morsi’s downfall, Egypt unrest

Posted by uscsjp on August 23, 2013

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s rant that Israel was behind the overthrow of president Mohamed Morsi in Egypt was not worthy of a response, Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said Tuesday.

“This is a statement well worth not commenting on,” Palmor said.

Another Israeli official said he had a one word response for Erdogan: “Nonsense.”

The Turkish premier, who has a history of anti-Israeli and anti-Semitic remarks, blamed Israel on Tuesday for the events that brought about Morsi’s ouster.

“Who is behind [the ouster]? There is Israel,” Erdogan said at a meeting of his AK Party in Ankara. “We have [a] document in our hands.”

The document, it emerged, was a video of a discussion held at Tel Aviv University in June 2011 on the Arab Spring between Tzipi Livni, then the head of the opposition and today the Justice Minister, and French-Jewish intellectual Bernard-Henri Lévy.

Lévy, during the symposium, said, “If the Muslim Brotherhood arrives in Egypt, I will not say democracy wants it, so let democracy progress. Of course not.

Democracy, again, is not only elections, it is also values.”

Lévy said Hamas’s takeover of Gaza “was [a] putsch, a coup; a democratic coup, but a coup. Hitler in 1933 was a coup; a democratic coup, but a coup.”

Asked by the moderator,former New York Times Jerusalem correspondent Ethan Bronner, whether he would urge Egypt’s military to intervene against the Muslim Brotherhood if they would win a legitimate election, Lévy said: “I will urge the prevention of them coming to power, but by all sorts of means.”

Citing this discussion, Erdogan said, “‘The Muslim Brotherhood will not be in power even if they win the elections, because democracy is not the ballot box.’ This is what they said at that time.”

Erdogan’s comments come just a few weeks after he blamed the unrest in his own country on an “interest rate lobby,” widely believed to be a metaphor for Western Jewish businessmen.

He likened Zionism in the past to fascism, and has routinely accused Israel of waging a campaign of “genocide” against Palestinians.

The United States condemned comments by Erdogan, a White House spokesman said on Tuesday.

“We strongly condemn the statements that were made by Prime Minister Erdogan today. Suggesting that Israel is somehow responsible for recent events in Egypt is offensive, unsubstantiated, and wrong,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters in a briefing.

Even Turkey’s Hurriyet Daily News seems to be tiring somewhat of Erdogan’s anti-Israel rants and conspiracy theories. The lead to an article on Erdogan’s comments Tuesday that appeared on the paper’s website began with the words, “Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan went back on the warpath August 20, accusing one of Ankara’s most prominent bogeymen, Israel, of complicity in overthrowing Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi.”

Erdogan’s comment Tuesday came some five months after Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu – at the behest of US President Barack Obama – phoned the Turkish prime minister and apologized for operational errors that may have led to loss of life on the Mavi Marmara ship that tried to break the naval blockade of Gaza in 2010.

While that apology was supposed to have paved the way for an Israeli-Turkish reconciliation, talks for compensation payments quickly bogged down as the Turks added that they wanted an Israeli admission that the compensation payments were the result of a wrongful act.

Expectations that the apology would lead relatively quickly to the exchange of ambassadors failed to materialize.

What the apology did do, one Israeli official said Tuesday, was remove US pressure on Israel to reconcile with Turkey, since in the eyes of the US, Netanyahu did what he needed to do.

–Herb Keinon, The Jerusalem Post, 20 August, 2013


See Also:

Israel Walks Fine Line on Egypt Turmoil

JERUSALEM – Worried about its 1979 peace treaty with Egypt, Israel is skirting a fine line between maintaining its usual silence on the unrest in its neighbor and openly supporting Egypt’s military-led government, which many in Israel view as the best bet for keeping a quiet border.

Officially, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government has kept mum about Egypt’s recent violence, saying it does not want to take sides. Privately officials acknowledge that they were happy to see the Islamist movement Muslim Brotherhood swept from power, though they are aware that public expressions of support can backfire because of Israel’s unpopularity in the region.

In a break from that position over the weekend, an unnamed senior government official claimed in an interview with the Jerusalem Post that Israel’s Foreign Ministry was preparing to launch a diplomatic campaign to convince the U.S. and Europe to soften their criticism of Egypt’s military.

If true, it would mark Israel’s most aggressive public step to date in attempting to sway the outcome of Egypt’s turmoil.

After a military crackdown this month against Muslim Brotherhood supporters left more than 800 people dead, the Obama administration and European Union announced they were reviewing relations with the military-led government.

“The name of the game right now is not democracy,” the official told the Jerusalem Post. “The name of the game is that there needs to be a functioning state. After you put Egypt back on track, then talk about restarting the democratic process there.”

The official said that Israel would begin lobbying Western governments with the message that the military is the only actor in Egypt that can prevent a civil war. “Like it or not, no one else can run the country right now,” the official said.

A similar story appeared in the New York Times, also quoting an unnamed senior official.

A spokesman for the prime minister declined to comment on the reports of the Israeli diplomatic campaign.

Other government officials dismissed the story, saying that there was no such effort underway by the Foreign Ministry.

“That’s not true,’’ said one of those officials, who was not authorized to speak publicly. “There is no campaign and no lobbying. We don’t interfere.”

At the same time, the official acknowledged that many in the government would prefer to see Egypt’s military remain in power since the army is the only Egyptian institution with which Israel has been able to maintain ties, albeit behind the scenes.

Cooperation between armies in Egypt and Israel has increased since last month’s coup, particularly in combating militants in the Sinai, which the governments view as a shared challenge.

Underscoring the threat, at least 24 Egyptian soldiers were killed Monday in an ambush by Sinai militants near the Egyptian border city of Rafah.

Last month, Israel agreed to allow Egypt’s military to increase its ground forces in the peninsula to crack down on Islamist militants. Last week, Israel reportedly launched a drone attack with Egyptian coordination against a team of militants suspected of preparing to fire a rocket at Israel.

Some viewed the leak as an attempt by Israel to improve its reputation with the Egyptian people, where anti-Israel sentiment remains strong.  Last week, the Rebel movement, a group of youth activists who helped trigger the anti-Mohamed Morsi coup, said they would begin a petition drive to force the military-led government to withdraw from the 1979 treaty with Israel.

Israel, like the U.S., has been attacked by both sides in Egypt’s recent fighting.

Israel’s government is particularly alarmed by recent calls by some leading U.S. lawmakers, including Sen. John McCain, to halt more than $1 billion in annual U.S. aid to Egypt’s military as a way to protest the recent violence.

“That would be the biggest mistake,’’ said Itzhak Levanon, Israel’s former ambassador to Egypt.

The American aid was largely a reward for Egypt’s signing of the 1979 peace accord, which has remained a cornerstone of regional stability.

“If the U.S. aid were stopped,” Levanon warned, “there would be voices in Egypt saying let’s get rid of the peace treaty.”


–Edmund Sanders, The LA Times, 19 August, 2013,0,7053896.story


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