Daily Israel Report

Kerry Says Erdogan's Comments Are 'Objectionable'

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry rejects Turkish PM’s comments against Zionism, calls on Turkey and Israel to repair their relationship.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 3/1/2013, 9:08 PM

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry meets Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry meets Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara
Reuters

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Friday rejected Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s comments against Zionism a day earlier, and called for Turkey and Israel to repair their relationship.

Kerry, who held talks in Ankara with Turkey's leaders on the Syria crisis, said during a press conference, according to AFP, “Obviously we disagree with that, we find it objectionable.”

On Thursday, Erdogan, compared Zionism with fascism in a public address at the opening session of the fifth UN Alliance of Civilizations.

“Just like Zionism, anti-Semitism and fascism, it becomes unavoidable that Islamophobia must be regarded as a crime against humanity,” the Turkish leader told the gathering.

Kerry said on Friday he would raise the issue "very directly" with Erdogan and express Washington's hopes to see the two "vital allies" work together.

He said it was essential for Turkey and Israel to rekindle their "historic cooperation" but the situation got more complicated "in the aftermath of the speech that we heard in Vienna."

Over the past three years, Israel has made numerous efforts to repair the fractures in the relationship with Turkey that first appeared following Israel’s Operation Cast Lead against Gaza terrorists in the winter of 2008-2009. 

Erdogan’s Islamist rage over the Jewish State’s air strikes on Gaza terrorist targets, launched to silence the constant rocket fire that had rained down from the region for years on southern Israeli communities, did not abate, however.

The subsequent deaths in May 2010 of nine armed men who attacked IDF commandos boarding a Turkish-owned vessel in an illegal flotilla attempting to breach Israel’s maritime blockade of Gaza further worsened the breach.

Turkish leaders demanded an apology from Israel over the incident, but Israeli leaders refused, saying Israel had acted in self-defense. In response, Turkey downgraded its ties with the Jewish State.

On Friday, Turkey’s Foreign Minister rejected a claim that Erdogan’s remarks were hostile.

"We have never made any hostile remarks against any nation," Ahmet Davutoglu said in response to a question over Erdogan's remarks, AFP reported.

"If you want to talk about hostile you can call Israel's attitude that, after it killed nine civilians on high seas," he added.

"If some countries acted in a hostile way against our citizens' right to life, allow us to reserve our right to make a statement."

Erdogan's comments were branded as "a dark and mendacious statement" by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, while Washington said "characterization of Zionism as a crime against humanity... is offensive and wrong."

A U.S. official travelling with Kerry on his first trip abroad since taking over as secretary of state told AFP that Washington was "dismayed" to hear Erdogan's remarks.

"This was particularly offensive frankly," said the official who requested anonymity.

(Arutz Sheva’s North American Desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)