show details 12:29 AM (8 hours ago)
Associated Press , THE JERUSALEM POST
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan stalked off the stage at the World Economic Forum red-faced after verbally sparring with President Shimon Peres over the fighting in Gaza.
Erdogan was flustered after he tried to speak as the scheduled session was ending at the forum in Davos, Switzerland, asking the moderator, Washington Post columnist David Ignatius, to let him speak once more.
“Only a minute,” Ignatius replied.
Erdogan said that “I remember two former prime ministers in your country who said they felt very happy when they were able to enter Palestine on tanks,” he said in Turkish.
“I find it very sad that people applaud what you said. There have been many people killed. And I think that it is very wrong and it is not humanitarian,” he said.
Ignatius said “We can’t start the debate again. We just don’t have time.”
Erdogan said “Please let me finish.” Ignatius responded “We really do need to get people to dinner.”
The Turkish premier then said, “Thank you very much. Thank you very much. Thank you very much. I don’t think I will come back to Davos after this.”
The confrontation saw Peres and Ergodan raise their voice shouting – highly unusual at the elite gathering of corporate and world leaders, which is usually marked by learned consensus seeking and polite dialogue.
The packed audience at the Ergodan and Peres session, which included US President Barack Obama’s close adviser Valerie Jarrett, appeared stunned.
Afterward, forum founder Klaus Schwab huddled with Erdogan in a corner of the Congress Center. A press conference with both men was scheduled for 8:30 p.m.
“I have know Shimon Peres for many years and I also know Erdogan. I have never seen Shimon Peres so passionate as he was today. I think he felt Israel was being attacked by so many in the international community. He felt isolated,” said former Norwegian Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik said.
“I was very sad that Ergodan left. This was an expression of how difficult this situation is.”
Amr Moussa, the former Egyptian foreign minister who now leads the Arab League, said Ergodan’s action was understandable. “Mr. Ergodan said what he wanted to say and then he left. That’s all. He was right.” Of Israel, he said, “They don’t listen.”