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Monday, February 2, 2009

Turkey told to walk away from Iran, Hamas

Sun, 01 Feb 2009 | PressTV

Israeli Foreign
Minister Tzipi Livni
believes Iran is
everyone's problem.
Aiming to deflect Turkey's criticism of its war on Gaza, Israel seeks to portray Hamas and Iran as the real causes for regional concern.

After Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan hit out at Israeli President Shimon Peres over Israel's offensive against Gaza in a heated Davos debate, Tel Aviv brushed off the attack by calling on Ankara to slow down diplomatic relations with Hamas and Iran.

"It must be remembered that after Hamas took power, Turkey was the first country to invite them over, so we find ourselves both in an important relationship but also in a dispute about how to conduct ourselves regionally," Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni told Israel Radio on Sunday.

"Despite the street demonstrations, despite the difficult images from Gaza ... Hamas is everyone's problem. And most countries in the region, in the Middle East, have understood this more than the Turks," added Livni.

Erdogan marched off the stage in front of Peres and UN chief Ban Ki-moon, after saying that Israel committed "barbarian" acts in Gaza, and lashing out at the audience for applauding Peres's remarks made in defense of the war. He vowed he would never return to Davos.

Bringing Iran's nuclear program into focus, Livni said other nations in the region "understand that Iran is everyone's problem," saying that Turkey has adopted a different position from that of the entire region.

Israel and its allies have confronted Iran over its enrichment program, claiming that it has accumulated enough enriched material "for a bomb".

This is while the UN nuclear watchdog conceded in its November report that Iran has managed to enrich uranium-235 to a level "less than 5 percent" -- a rate consistent with the development of a nuclear power plant.

Nuclear arms production requires an enrichment level of above 90 percent.

The new rift between Israel and turkey comes as earlier in July the Israeli air force used the airspace in northern Turkey to hold military drills.

The New York Times revealed that the major military exercise was a rehearsal for a potential bombing attack on Iran's nuclear facilities.

Israeli Ambassador to Ankara Gabby Levy acknowledged the tension in bilateral relations, adding that he was working with local authorities on restoring ties.

"There is a rift in our relations. This cannot be hidden. But these relations are very important for both countries," Levy told Israel Radio.

He sought to ease the ongoing tension by saying that he is confident relations between the two "closest and... friendliest countries" will recover "within a period of time."

"The Turkish government (is) drawing a distinction between bilateral ties and the censure they are leveling at us over the (Gaza) operation."

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