Leaders of Turkey and Israel Clash at Davos Panel
DAVOS, Switzerland — Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey walked off the stage after an angry exchange with the Israeli president, Shimon Peres, during a panel discussion on Gaza at the World Economic Forum on Thursday, vowing never to return to the annual gathering.
Mr. Erdogan apparently became incensed after the moderator curtailed his response to remarks by Mr. Peres on the recent Israeli military campaign. The panel was running late, and Mr. Peres was to have had the last word, participants said.
Panel discussions at Davos are restricted to one hour, but Mr. Erdogan insisted on responding to Mr. Peres. Red-faced, and with one hand grasping the arm of the moderator, the columnist David Ignatius of The Washington Post, Mr. Erdogan turned to the Israeli president.
“Mr. Peres, you are older than me,” he said. “Your voice comes out in a very loud tone. And the loudness of your voice has to do with a guilty conscience. My voice, however, will not come out in the same tone.”
Resisting efforts by Mr. Ignatius to end the session, Mr. Erdogan continued, saying to Mr. Peres, “When it comes to killing, you know well how to kill.”
Eventually, the prime minister gathered up his papers and departed, saying, “And so Davos is over for me from now on.”
Mr. Peres pointed at the departing Mr. Erdogan and said Turkey would have reacted the same way had rockets been falling on Istanbul, participants said.
Mr. Peres called Mr. Erdogan five minutes later to apologize for any misunderstanding, saying that his words had not been directed at the prime minister personally, the semiofficial Anatolian News Agency reported.
In a news conference immediately after the panel discussion, Mr. Erdogan said he was particularly upset with Mr. Ignatius, who he said had failed to direct a balanced and impartial panel.
By all accounts, the discussion of the Gaza offensive was lively, with Secretary General Ban Ki-moon of the United Nations and Amr Moussa, the Arab League’s secretary general, joining Mr. Peres and Mr. Erdogan. Participants said Mr. Peres was mostly alone in defending Israel’s role in Gaza, and for that reason he was given the final 25 minutes to speak. Earlier, Mr. Erdogan spoke for 12 minutes about the Palestinians’ sufferings.
Although Mr. Erdogan has strongly criticized Israel’s Gaza offensive, his country and Israel have long enjoyed close diplomatic relations. With its strong relations with the militant group Hamas, which controls Gaza, Mr. Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party has played a growing role mediating among Israel, Syria, Lebanon and the Palestinians.
Sebnem Arsu contributed reporting from Istanbul. [ New York Times 29 January 2009]
Tahniah atas keberanian Tuan membela umat Islam tertindas di Palestin. Israel menerima padah pertama. Walaupun pemimpin negara Arab sehingga kini membisu seribu bahasa tanpa berani mengeluarkan kenyataan mengecam Israel, beliau dengan lantangnya bangun mewakili umat Islam bukan Arab yang berani. Tabik hormat buat beliau. Seharusnya pemimpin negara Islam lain mencontohi keberanian beliau. Beliau boleh dikategorikan bersama Hugo Chavez dan pemimpin negara Mauritania yang berani mengambil tindakan drastik. Renung-renungkanlah wahai pemimpin umat Islam lain, lebih-lebih lagi di rantau Timur Tengah.