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Erdogan’s comments aimed to divide Egyptians, the state news agency MENA quoted ministers as saying: “The cabinet stresses that Egypt’s patience is wearing thin,” it said. “Egypt does not share others’ enmities, and is not about to go in search of a new identity. Its Arab and Islamic nature is obvious.”
Erdogan did not say what documentation he had, but referred to comments he said an Israeli cabinet minister had made before Egyptian parliamentary elections that were held after a popular uprising pushed President Hosni Mubarak from power.
“Before the 2011 elections, during a session in France, the justice minister and an intellectual from France - he’s Jewish too - they used exactly this comment: ‘Even if the Muslim Brotherhood wins the election, they will not win because democracy is not the ballot box’,” Erdogan said.
“That is exactly what happened,” he said, without naming either the minister nor the French intellectual.
He appeared to refer to comments available in an online video from a seminar in mid-2011 involving French philosopher Bernard-Henri Levy and Tzipi Livni, then the leader of Israel’s opposition and now justice minister. Livni has questioned the Brotherhood’s willingness to respect democratic opposition.
A spokeswoman for Livni said of Erdogan’s remarks: “Any attempt to try and tie Israel and Minister Livni to Egypt’s internal affairs is unfounded.”
Turkey’s relations with Israel have soured in recent years and hit a low in May 2010 when Israeli commandos killed nine Turkish activists while storming the Mavi Marmara, a ship in a convoy seeking to break an Israeli naval blockade of Gaza.
Earlier this year, Erdogan called Zionism “a crime against humanity”, prompting objections from U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. President Barack Obama subsequently orchestrated an Israeli apology for the Mavi Marmara raid.
At least two senior AK Party officials have suggested there was Jewish involvement in anti-government protests that rocked Turkey in late May and June.
Erdogan repeatedly blamed unnamed foreign interests and an “interest-rate lobby” for those protests, in what he deemed an anti-democratic effort to undo Turkey’s last three elections, in which the AK Party increased its share of the vote each time.
“The West needs to learn the definition of democracy, Erdogan said. “If it cannot … these clashes will carry the world towards a different place. What is that? It will take it towards autocratic regimes. That is our concern.”