Source: The Jerusalem Post
By Ariel Ben Solomon
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Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan told Denmark’s Politiken newspaper that he would not take back his comments from several weeks ago that Zionism was a crime against humanity. He did, however, try to explain them as a misunderstanding.
“My several statements openly condemning anti-Semitism clearly display my position on this issue. In this context, I stand behind my remarks in Vienna,” said Erdogan in the interview, which was published Wednesday.
But he also said he understood that his remarks had created controversy, and went on to try to rationalize them.
“I understand that my statement in Vienna led to some debate. But no one should misunderstand what I said,” he stated.
“Everyone should know that my criticisms on certain issues, especially Gaza and the settlements, are directed at Israeli policies,” he continued. “And it’s entirely natural for us to continue to criticize Israel, as long as it will not give up its approach of denying the right to exist of the Palestinian state.
On the other hand, we have recognized and continue to recognize the Israeli state, within the framework of the 1967 borders and on the basis of the two-state solution.”
Erdogan also told the paper that Turkey had hosted a number of Israeli leaders in the interest of reaching a two-state solution and resolving the conflict.
However, Prof. Efraim Inbar, director of the Begin-Sadat (BESA) Center for Strategic Studies, told The Jerusalem Post that the Turkish leader’s comments to the paper were little more than damage control.
“Erdogan’s reaction is part of a concerted effort to minimize the damage of his ‘Zionism equals crime against humanity’ statement that attracted a lot of international criticism,” he said. “He simply tries to tone down his anti-Semitism when it harms his and Turkey’s standing in the world community.”