Turkey calls for Israeli minister to be sacked
Friday 14 January 2011
Turkey's Prime Minister has urged Israel to sack its controversial foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, arguing that he is an obstacle to peace in the region.
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, a vocal critic of Israeli policies, sounded some of the harshest criticism yet of Mr Lieberman from an erstwhile ally, describing him as a "despicable" man who is "a problem at the head of Israel".
His undiplomatic comments appeared to reflect Ankara's deep resentment at a series of verbal barbs directed at Turkey by the ultra-nationalist politician in recent weeks. Earlier this month, Mr Lieberman likened Turkey to a country on the brink of an Islamic-style revolution that overthrew the Shah in Iran in 1979, and said that the two countries' anti-Israel "vitriol" was almost identical.
"Mr Lieberman is Israel's chief problem and the Israelis should get rid of him," Mr Erdogan told Al Jazeera satellite channel. "This is their problem not ours. If Israel doesn't fire him, their problems will get worse."
Mr Lieberman is seen to have undermined efforts by Israel to resolve a diplomatic crisis that followed Israel's storming of a Gaza-bound ship last May, which resulted in the death of Turkish activists. Ankara has demanded an apology and compensation, but the foreign minister has repeatedly said that Israel will never give that. His remarks have proved an embarrassment for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is keen to restore ties.
Within Israel, Mr Lieberman remains a highly divisive figure, reviled by the left and feted by the right. A former nightclub bouncer from Moldova, he has an assault charge to his name, and once said Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak could "go to hell". He has also advocated dumping Palestinian prisoners into the sea.
But he struck a deep chord with many when he expressed skepticism over the likelihood of success in Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. Moreover, his questioning of the loyalty of Israel's Arab citizens, the Palestinians who accepted citizenship in 1948, has also echoed the fears of many right-wing voters.
So far, Mr Netanyahu has tolerated Mr Lieberman, whose Yisrael Beitenu party is a critical partner in his fragmented coalition. But Mr Lieberman recently earned a rare public rebuke, prompting speculation that the premier's patience could finally be wearing thin.
Most expensive city to live in for expatriates: Luanda, Angola takes number one spot with Hong Kong and Zurich in top three
Video of Irish 'professional boxer' fighting Istanbul neighbourhood goes viral in Turkey
Irish tourist filmed fighting with shopkeepers in Turkey says 'they messed with the wrong man'
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are handed peerages
Moody neurotics are more likely to be creative geniuses, study says
- 1 Hair loss explained: How and why men go bald
- 2 Game of Thrones season 6: Jon Snow theorists believe the Stark may have a twin sister
- 3 Artist takes LSD, draws herself over different stages of the 9-hour trip to show its effects
- 4 A pint of water every day is the key to losing weight, scientists say
- 5 Russia 'accidentally reveals' number of its soldiers killed in eastern Ukraine
£13000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Would you like to be part of a ...
£19000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT and Telecoms company ar...
£23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Visitor Fundraising Team is responsi...
£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...