Turkey's Prime Minister Accuses Israel of Being a 'Terrorist State'; Cease-Fire Talks Continue

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Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused Israel of being a "terrorist state" on Monday and criticized world powers for supporting the weeklong bombardment of Gaza that has killed more some 115 people, signaling that the three-year-old rift between the countries is deepening.

Speaking in Istanbul shortly after returning from Cairo, where he held emergency talks on Gaza with Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi, Mr. Erdogan railed against what he called Western powers' failure to take concerted action to stop bloodshed in Syria. But harsher words were aimed at one-time ally Israel.

"Those who speak of Muslims and terror side by side are turning a blind eye when Muslims are massacred en masse," he told a gathering of the Eurasian Islamic Council. "Those who turn a blind eye to discrimination toward Muslims in their own countries, are also closing their eyes to the savage massacre of innocent children in Gaza. ... Therefore, I say Israel is a terrorist state."

The comments mark a recent low in relations between Turkey and Israel, which have been strained since Israel's 2008 offensive in Hamas-controlled Gaza.

Mr. Erdogan's latest comments appear to pour cold water on the prospect of a thaw in relations between Washington's two top allies in the region. Recent reports in the Turkish media suggested that the two sides were making headway on repairing ties, although these reports were denied by Turkey's cabinet ministers.

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SOURCE: The Wall Street Journal
Emre Peker
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