Erdogan sees Israel as ‘biggest barrier’ in Mideast

(JTA) – The government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu  is “the biggest barrier to peace” in the Middle East, Turkey’s prime minister said in a television  interview.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan, speaking Monday night with PBS’s Charlie Rose, reportedly said he thought Israel’s government impeded Middle East peace attempts and that "at the moment, the problem in Israel is the coalition government. The coalition government is the biggest barrier to peace."

"Israel hasn’t really accepted a two-state solution," Erdogan added, according to Haaretz, saying that "while Israel’s governments spoke about it, they in fact did nothing to advance it."

The Turkish leader called on Israel to lift its blockade of Gaza, to apologize for "recent events" and to pay compensation to the families of those killed in the Gaza-bound flotilla violence and the people of Gaza.

Erdogan called for the United States to "take ownership" of the aftermath of Israel’s interception of the flotilla on May 31 in which nine people were killed "because there was an American involved.”

Eight of the dead in the raid of a ship attempting to break Israel’s blockade of Gaza were Turks; the ninth was a dual Turkish-American citizen.

Erdogan said that despite recalling its ambassador from Israel, cancelling several planned military exercises and preventing Israeli military planes from using its airspace, Turkey remains “a friend to Israel."

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