Turkey PM slams Israeli 'state terrorism' in Gaza
Israel is carrying out "state terrorism" in Gaza by violating the international law and disregarding humanitarian values in Gaza, Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Tuesday.
The Turkish premier also reiterated that a normalization of relations between Turkey and Israel should not be expected unless Israel stops its offensives against Palestinians.
"Israel is continuing to carry out state terrorism in the region. Nobody, except us, tells it to stop," Erdogan told members of his ruling party in parliament, accusing Israel of perpetrating a "massacre" of Palestinians.
"For how long more will the world remain silent to this state terrorism? In Palestine, innocent children are not the only ones who are being killed. Global justice is being killed there too," Erdogan told his ruling Justice and Development Party's parliamentary group meeting in Ankara.
"The day will come when Israel will pay a price for shedding innocent Palestinians' blood," Erdogan said, vowing to continue to voice Turkey's strong support for the Palestinian cause.
Erdogan also lashed out at Israeli lawmaker Ayelet Shaked of the far-right Jewish Home party who posted controversial remarks on social media suggesting the Palestinians deserved to die.
"What's the difference between this mentality and that of Hitler?" Erdogan said.
His comments came after a week of the deadliest violence in the Gaza Strip for years which has claimed at least Palestinian 192 lives, sparking international condemnation.
Erdogan welcomed an Egyptian ceasefire proposal as "very positive" and "precious", saying he hopes it is secured.
Israel on Tuesday said it accepted the Egyptian proposal but Hamas has reportedly rejected the terms of the US-backed truce.
"But it appears that the blood of innocent Palestinian children is being exploited once again in the dirty politics of the Middle East," he added.
Turkish-Qatari efforts for a ceasefire
Turkey has stepped up its diplomatic efforts to secure a ceasefire.
Qatar's Foreign Minister Khalid al-Attiyah will meet Turkish leaders in Ankara on Tuesday and Erdogan is due to host Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas in Turkey for talks on Friday, according to Turkish diplomats.
Erdogan is holding regular talks on the phone with Abbas and Hamas chief Khaled Meshaal but no contacts have been made with Israel so far, a Turkish official told AFP.
"Concrete steps can only be taken after Israel stops its assault on Gaza," the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Ties between Israel and Turkey hit a low after Israeli marines stormed a Gaza-bound Turkish ship in 2010 while in international waters. Ten Turks have died since the attack.
Encouraged by the United States, there had been progress toward a normalisation of ties between the former allies. But Erdogan said relations will remain frosty as long as Israel continues its offensive against Gaza.
"The Israeli state must know that it is out of the question to normalise our relations if those massacres continue," he said.
Erdogan is widely seen as a champion of the Palestinian cause.
"You are no longer alone and will never be," said Erdogan, referring to the Palestinians.
Until the rise to power of Erdogan's AKP, NATO member Turkey was seen as Israel's key ally in the Muslim world and Middle East.