ANKARA - Israel should be barred from the United Nations while it continues to ignore the body's calls to cease fighting in the Gaza Strip, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said Friday.
"How is such a country, which totally ignores and does not implement resolutions of the U.N. Security Council, allowed to enter the gates of U.N. (headquarters)?" asked Erdoğan. He was addressing his ruling Justice and Development Party, or AKP, members.
His remarks came before U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon was due to arrive in Ankara to discuss the conflict as part of a regional tour.
Ban Ki-moon had met with President Abdullah Gül and Foreign Minister Ali Babacan in Ankara by late Friday and then attended a dinner with Erdoğan. No statement was made to the press when the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review went to print.
Erdoğan’s comments reflected a growing anger in Turkey, Israel’s regional ally, over Israel’s operation into Gaza. "The U.N. building in Gaza was hit while the U.N. secretary-general was in Israel," Erdoğan said. "This is an open challenge to the world, teasing the world."
Israel infuriated the United Nations on Thursday when it shelled the world body’s headquarters in Gaza City, where hundreds of Palestinians living in Gaza were seeking cover from the fighting among food and supplies meant for refugees. The destruction added to what aid groups say is a humanitarian crisis in Gaza and increased tensions between Israel and the international community even as diplomats engaged in cease-fire talks.
Erdoğan said Hamas did not have specific military installations or headquarters in Gaza, as alleged by Israel, and that civilians were becoming victims of attacks on hospitals and mosques.
In an anti-Israel demonstration in Istanbul after Friday prayers, around 1,500 pro-Islamic protesters chanted: "We are all soldiers of Hamas."
"I want to call on the entire world: do not turn a blind eye to this savagery, do not be a spectator to this massacre because those who remain silent will become a party to this shame," Erdoğan said. "Who can justify bombing young people, the elderly, women and even children."
Israeli Foreign Ministry Spokesman Yigal Palmor rebuffed Erdoğan’s criticisms. "Maybe if Turkey had voted with Israel more in the UN and expressed its anger when Hamas was firing rockets indiscriminately on Israeli civilians, it could have contributed more to bring peace than by making such statements," Palmor was quoted as saying.