Monday, October 26, 2009

Lieberman in the Crosshairs! Egypt boycott of Lieberman pushes off Med Union summit; Turkey PM says Lieberman threatened to nuke Gaza

(Haaretz).France on Monday postponed the start of a foreign ministers meeting for member states of the Union for the Mediterranean due to Egypt's refusal to participate in protest of Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman's planned attendance.

The summit was originally scheduled to take place next week in Istanbul.

In recent days, Paris has exerted pressure on Cairo to relent and agree to take part in the summit. Yet the Egyptians have thus far refused.

Earlier this month, Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit told his French counterpart Bernard Kouchner that Egypt would not attend the session if Lieberman is present.


Turkey's prime minister has further inflamed simmering Israel-Turkey tensions, claiming that Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman threatened to use nuclear weapons against Gaza, The Guardian reported Monday.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan was quoted as making the allegation in an interview published by the British newspaper. The comments came amid a crisis in ties between the two allies, which erupted earlier in the month after Turkey banned Israel from participating in a NATO air force drill.

The crisis was deepened two weeks ago, when Ankara refused to take off the air a television drama that depicts Israeli soldiers killing Palestinian children.

In the interview, Erdogan reportedly insisted that the Turkey-Israel strategic alliance remained alive, but chided Lieberman over the alleged nuclear threat regarding the Gaza Strip.

The Turkish leader also stressed that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who has repeatedly called for Israel's destruction, was a "friend" of Turkey's.

"There is no doubt he is our friend," Erdogan was quoted as saying. "As a friend so far we have very good relations and have had no difficulty at all."