Opposition sources said Erdogan has been discussing the feasibility of
moving up elections, scheduled for July 2011, to capitalize on the crisis
with Israel, Middle East Newsline reported. They said the prime minister, who has proposed that the
government hire 50,000 people over the next year, hoped that his Islamist
constituency would mobilize behind the ruling Justice and Development Party.
The opposition charged that Erdogan sought a confrontation with Israel
when he supported a Turkish-sponsored flotilla to break the Egyptian and
Israeli siege of the Gaza Strip. Opposition deputies said Ankara could have
defused the situation through diplomacy with Jerusalem.
"He [Erdogan] almost declared war against Israel in his party's meeting
[on June 1]," Kilicdaroglu said. "The Turkish Foreign Ministry should
publicly disclose correspondence made with Israel so that we may all learn
whether Israel warned Turkey or not. Nothing should remain secret."
Erdogan also faced criticism for his anti-Israeli policy from
pro-Kurdish constituents. At one forum, the prime minister was asked how he
could condemn Israel for the bloody naval interception of a Turkish-flagged
ship to the Gaza Strip when Ankara was killing Kurdish insurgents.
"How can you compare the two?" Erdogan asked.
The prime minister has accused the opposition Republican People's Party
of supporting Israel. Erdogan said the opposition wanted to limit the
pro-Islamist government to conventional diplomacy.
"Some people speak in the name of Tel Aviv, advocate for Tel Aviv,"
Erdogan said. "They question our way of diplomacy. The way you did things
put us in this dire situation. As I said earlier, we do not work as the 'mon
cher' diplomats do."
But opposition sources and independent analysts asserted that Erdogan
faced opposition to his anti-Israeli policy from within the Justice and
Development Party, which commands a majority of parliament. They cited
statements by the deputy prime minister as well as defense and foreign
ministers that Ankara wanted to defuse the crisis with Israel.
"If the prime minister wants to understand who is the advocate of Tel
Aviv, he should look to his right and he will see [Deputy Prime Minister]
Bulent Arinc making different statements from the government," Kilicdaroglu
told Turkish television on June 7.
In June, the cleric deemed as the Islamic guide of AKP criticized the
Turkish-organized flotilla to the Gaza Strip. Fethullah Gulen, who heads the
largest Muslim movement in Turkey and now lives in the United States, issued
a statement that Ankara should have first received permission from Israel
before sending the flotilla. Later, senior AKP officials agreed.
"The government is purposely changing the agenda of the country,"
Kilicdaroglu said. "Some 114 Turkish soldiers have died since the AKP's move
to end the terror problem in the country. Likewise, there have been recent
developments in the CHP's agenda regarding unemployment and poverty.
However, all discussion of these topics has ended. Nobody talks about them