"We don't need Israeli tourists in Turkey and we don't feel their absence," Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan told journalists from "Yediot Ahronot" and "Maariv" during a reception in Istanbul yesterday. "We have replaced Israeli tourists with other tourists and last year we had 31 million tourists."
He added, "Only if Israel apologizes for IDF soldiers boarding the Marmara and killing Turkish activists, and pays compensation to the families of the dead, and removes the terrible blockade on Gaza, will I be ready to meet with the Israeli prime minister, and perhaps normalize relations between the countries."
Erdogan continued, "If and when Israel meets these conditions, then relations can flourish as they did in the past. We will not compromise over these conditions, even if the price is a protracted crisis between the countries."
Erdogan claimed that Israel had not observed UN Security Council decisions and was receiving US support for this. He said, "This is an intolerable situation that is not going to change in the near future because the composition of the Security Council is convenient for Israel."
Erdogan attacked Israel for its alleged treatment of the Palestinians. He said, "Palestinian men, women and children that have done nothing wrong are being killed wholesale or held in the largest prison."
He added, "I'm waiting for an answer from Benjamin Netanyahu. Time is running out for advancing talks over the peace process with Israel. I've sent him two simple questions."
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on June 6, 2012
© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2012