'Tel Aviv advocate is within AKP,' Turkish opposition party leader says
Hitting out at the prime minister's accusations that he is an advocate for Israel, the main opposition leader has said the ruling party should look within its own ranks for supporters of Tel Aviv.
"I am not the advocate of Israel but of the public," Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, the leader of the Republican People's Party, or CHP, said Monday, adding that Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan should examine the statements of his own deputy.
"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] Bülent Arınç making different statements from the government," Kılıçdaroğlu told private channel NTV in an interview.
The CHP chief referred to "messages from Pennsylvania," where Turkish religious movement leader Fethullah Gülen lives, that said Turkey should have received permission from Israel before dispatching a flotilla of aid ships to Gaza. "Arınç said these remarks are true," he said. "These statements clearly show who is the advocate."
Erdoğan earlier criticized Kılıçdaroğlu for supporting the Israeli suggestion that the deaths of nine activists involved in the flotilla had occurred because the group failed to seek an agreement with Israel. Gülen's remarks divided Turkey's ruling Justice and Development Party, or AKP, with Arınç and Erdoğan offering differing interpretations.
"The incident deflated Turkey and it is the responsibility of the AKP to restore Turkey's dignity," Kılıçdaroğlu said. "The prime minister and the AKP have uttered many promises. If they don't fulfill them, we will explain to the public."
The CHP leader criticized Erdoğan for placing foreign policy over domestic politics and making domestic politics out of foreign policy, as well as for his stern tone regarding recent developments with Israel.
‘Correspondence should be revealed'
"He [Erdoğan] almost declared war against Israel in his party's meeting Tuesday. Our party displays a more moderate and careful approach," Kılıçdaroğlu said.
"Foreign policy can't be carried out with heroism but with reason. The Turkish Foreign Ministry should publicly disclose correspondence made with Israel so that we may all learn whether Israel warned Turkey or not," he added. "Nothing should remain secret."
Kılıçdaroğlu also touched on domestic issues, including the package of government-sponsored constitutional amendments, which he said were more dangerous than the 1980 junta-made Constitution as they would deal a harsh blow to democracy and the government's plans to solve the long-standing Kurdish question.
"The government is purposely changing the agenda of the country. Some 114 Turkish soldiers have died since the AKP's move to end the terror problem in the country," he said. "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 anymore."
Two independent deputies, Hüseyin Pazarcı and Harun Öztürk, meanwhile announced Monday that they would join the CHP, bringing the party's number of seats in Parliament to 101.
Kılıçdaroğlu said the CHP is ready for a possible early election.