ANKARA (Combined Sources)–Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday said that Turkey will come to the defense of Muslims around the world, including the beleaguered Palestinians in Israel.
“We cannot be indifferent to the problems of the Islamic world of Jerusalem,” said Erdogan at a ceremony to mark the opening of an Arab-language television and radio company.
“Our task is the integration with the Western world but we did not turn our back to the East,” Erdogan continued. “Arabs and Turks are brothers and we share the same values.”
The Turkish prime minister also said that the situation in Gaza is inhumane. “We cannot watch the murder of children in Gaza with indifference,” he said. “We worry about the Gaza children but our hearts are also for the children of Haiti and Chile.”
Israel’s Foreign Ministry immediately responded to Erdogan’s criticism of Israel over actions in Jerusalem and Gaza, saying on Sunday that the Turkish Prime Minister is attempting to integrate with the Muslim world at the expense of his country’s ties with Israel.
“We suggest he find a more creative way, and to try to integrate with both the Muslim and Western worlds without turning into an extremist leader in the style of Hugo Chavez.”
The Foreign Ministry also responded to Erdogan’s remarks about concern over “the murder of children in Gaza with indifference,” that he should be equally concerned for the killing of innocent civilians in Pakistan and Iraq at the hands of terrorist groups.
Meanwhile, Turkish television reported Sunday that Ankara will name a new ambassador to Israel to replace envoy Ahmet Oguz Celikkol, who was humiliated in Israel earlier this year.
Private NTV television on Sunday reported that Celikkol, who held the post for less than a year, will be replaced this summer by diplomat and expert on Middle Eastern affairs Kerim Uras.
Celikkol was rebuked by Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon during a January meeting in which he summoned over an anti-Israeli television show aired in Turkey, and was made to sit in a chair lower than that of Ayalon, while the Turkish flag was deliberately not put on display. Ayalon later apologized for the incident.