Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Friday slammed Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi as an illegitimate tyrant, saying that Cairo could not be relied upon to negotiate a ceasefire with Israel.
“Is Sisi a party (to a ceasefire)? Sisi is a tyrant himself,” Erdogan told reporters.
“He is not different from the others,” he said, adding that it was Egypt’s current rulers who were blocking humanitarian aid channels to the Gaza Strip.
Turkey’s government has had a strained relationship with Egypt since the ouster of democratically elected president Mohamed Morsi, which many view as a coup.
The spat between Ankara and Cairo came to a head in November when Egypt’s military rulers expelled Turkey’s ambassador over Erdogan’s support for Morsi, prompting a tit-for-tat response from the Turkish government.
Erdogan said supporting an Egyptian proposal for a ceasefire would mean legitimising the administration in Egypt.
“Egypt is not a party … They are trying to legitimise (the Sisi administration) in Egypt. It is not a legitimate administration. It is illegitimate,” he said, lashing out at Israeli attempts to exclude Hamas, which had won the last Palestinian legislative elections in 2006.
“Hamas is a party there,” he said.
Israel to pull some diplomatic staff from Turkey
Israel decided Friday to pull some of its diplomatic staff out of Turkey in the wake of protests targeting the buildings of its embassy and consulate in Ankara and Istanbul, an Israeli embassy spokesman said.
Hundreds of protesters attacked the Israeli consulate in Istanbul while similar numbers sought to break into the residence of the ambassador in Ankara.
Riot police fired tear gas and water cannon to halt the protests in Istanbul in the early hours of the morning but in Ankara they stood on the sidelines.
“Foreign Minister (Avigdor) Lieberman issued a statement… following the demonstrations and instructed the Israeli consulate and embassy to reduce their diplomatic staff in Turkey,” the spokesman told AFP, without stating the numbers concerned.
The spokesman emphasised that the Israeli representation in Turkey would not be completely shut down but would be reduced to minimum staffing. The measure also includes the diplomats’ families, he added.
The Israeli foreign ministry also accused Turkey’s security officials of failing to prevent the violence, he noted.
The crowds in Istanbul, waving Palestinian flags, hurled stones and smashed the windows of the consulate in the upscale Levent district to denounce the Israeli military operations that have left at least 260 Palestinians dead.
Turkey downgraded its diplomatic ties with Tel Aviv after the deadly 2010 maritime raid by Israeli commandoes of a Gaza-bound Turkish ship. Ten pro-Palestinian activists were killed as a result of the attack.
Ankara expelled the Israeli ambassador, demanded a formal apology, compensation for the victims, and an end to the Gaza blockade.
After a US-brokered apology issued by Israel, both sides were engaged in contacts to mend fences and were close to a compensation agreement. But the Israeli military operation in Gaza Strip has made any normalisation out of the question for the moment.
Erdogan slams Israel over ‘systematic genocide’ of Palestinians
Erdogan on Thursday had accused Israel of trying to carry out a “systematic genocide” of the Palestinians.
“This is not the first time we have been confronted by such situations,” Erdogan told a meeting of Islamic scholars gathered in Istanbul for Ramadan, a holy month of fasting for Muslims.
“Since (the creation of the state of Israel) in 1948 we have been witnessing this attempt at systematic genocide every day and every month.
“But above all we are witnessing this attempt at systematic genocide every Ramadan.”
“The Western world remains silent, so does the Islamic world. Because those who lost their lives are Palestinian, you can’t hear their voices,” Erdogan added.
“What is the UN doing? Why has it been founded? For world peace? Does it contribute to the world peace? No.”
But he also accused other Muslim countries of being indifferent to the fate of the Palestinians, a possible swipe at Saudi Arabia and Egypt, which have the borders with Gaza sealed.
“I am asking the Islamic world? Isn’t your heart shattered? Forget about the West. If your family does not embrace you, would others do that?”
Erdogan on Tuesday 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.