Israel was behind the early July military coup in Egypt, which saw the democratically elected Islamist president Mohammad Morsi removed from power, and Turkey has the evidence to prove it, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan alleged on Tuesday.
Speaking at a meeting of his ruling Justice and Development Party, Erdogan said that his government could prove Israel’s involvement, and cited as evidence a statement made during a 2011 panel with Jewish intellectual Bernard Henri Levy and then-opposition leader Tzipi Livni in France, according to a Hurriyet Daily News report.
Erdogan cited Levy as saying at the time that “the Muslim Brotherhood will not be in power even if they win the elections. Because democracy is not the ballot box.”
“Now the West starts to say democracy is not the ballot box or not only the box, but we know that the ballot box is the people’s will,” Erdogan said. “This is what has been implemented in Egypt. Who is behind this? Israel. We have evidence,” the Turkish prime minister added.
Asked to comment about Erdogan’s statement, an Israeli government official responded with one word: “Nonsense.”
Turkey had backed Morsi and has strongly condemned his removal from power by the Egyptian military and the subsequent bloodshed and civil strife. Last week, Istanbul recalled its ambassador to Egypt in protest, and Egypt’s interim government followed suit by recalling the Egyptian ambassador to Turkey, effectively cutting off diplomatic relations between the two countries.
Turkey and Israel also enjoyed close diplomatic, economic and military relations before the 2008-2009 Israeli Cast Lead operation against Gaza’s terror groups and the 2010 Mavi Marmara incident, in which nine Turkish citizens were killed trying to break the Israeli naval blockade of Gaza.
Despite the reconciliation brokered by US President Barack Obama in March, ties have remained strained.
Raphael Ahren contributed to this report.