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Livni urges Turkey to combat terror

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Tzipi Livni urged Turkey to join moderate elements in the Middle East in the war on terror.

In an interview broadcast Monday on Turkish state television, Israel’s opposition leader spoke directly to the Turkish people, urging them not to foment a crisis between Israel and Turkey over Hamas in Gaza.

"I am saying to the people of Turkey and their leaders: Supporting the war on terror is not an anti-Palestinian act; it is an anti-terrorism act," said Livni, of the Kadima Party. "Hamas does not represent the national aspirations of the Palestinians. It is not acting on their behalf or promoting them.

"The ties between Israel and Turkey are of a strategic nature, and as chairwoman of the opposition, I hereby state that they are not related to the type of government ruling in Jerusalem, and there is no opposition or coalition in this matter.

Livni, a former foreign minister, reiterated that the Gaza military offensive was an attack against Hamas, not an attack against the Palestinian civilians of Gaza.

"We support the government’s efforts to try and end the crisis," she said. "I believe that what is on the agenda here is not the Israel-Turkey ties but the division between states in the region that understand what the real threat is, are threatened themselves by extremist bodies and cooperate together to defeat them." 

Her appearance on Turkish television, which she told Israel Radio Tuesday was coordinated with the Foreign Ministry,  came a day after Turkey banned Israel from a planned NATO military exercise in the Muslim country. The exercise was canceled after the United States and NATO countries backed out over the exclusion of Israel. 

Turkey’s Foreign Ministry said the international aspect of the "Turkish exercise" had been postponed, and "it is inappropriate to draw a political meaning and conclusion from the postponement."

Also Monday, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in a speech that the international community blamed the Gaza military offensive on "Islamic terror" and Muslims instead of on Israel.

"People just watched from the comfort of their seats as phosphorus bombs rained on innocent children in Gaza," Erdogan said. "In international platforms, efforts ensued to blame Islam for Islamic terror."

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