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PoliticsMiddle East

Erdogan slams US, Austria over Israel response

May 18, 2021

The Turkish president said Biden was "writing history with bloody hands" after US approval of weapons sales to Israel. He also denounced Austria for flying the Israeli flag in solidarity last week.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks in Ankara
Erdogan criticized a weapons deal between the US and Israel, and Austria's open support of the countryImage: Aytac Unal/AA/picture alliance

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday slammed Austria and United States President Joe Biden for their response to the ongoing conflict between Israel and Palestinians.

He said that Biden was "writing history with bloody hands" because of his support for Israel. His comments, made in a nationally televised address on Monday, represented one of his strongest attacks against the US president since Biden took office in January.

Erdogan also criticized Austria for flying the flag of Israel last week. "I condemn Austria for hanging the Israeli terror state's flag," Erdogan said. "The Austrian state seems to be trying to make Muslims pay the price for [its role] in the Holocaust."

Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz called the move to fly the flag a mark of solidarity with Israel amid the deadly clashes.

Erdogan, a vocal critic of Israel, has reached out to world leaders in the past week, calling for governments to take action against Israel. He has, however, spent the past few months trying to mend relations with Washington and contacting Western allies after a year of disputes.

Criticism of weapons sales

Speaking after a cabinet meeting, the Turkish leader criticized Biden's approval of weapons sales to Israel.

"You are writing history with your bloody hands in this incident that is a serious disproportionate attack on Gaza, which is leading to the martyrdom of hundreds of thousands of people," he said. "You forced us to say this. Because we cannot stay silent on this anymore."

The Biden administration on Monday approved the potential sale of $735 million (€602 million) in precision-guided weapons to Israel, according to congressional sources.

"Today, we saw Biden's signature on weapons sales to Israel," he said. "Palestine territories are awash with persecution, suffering and blood, like many other territories that lost the peace with the end of the Ottomans."

Israel sent several air strikes into Gaza on Monday while Palestinian militants launched rockets at Israeli cities.

Critics on all sides, including Biden, have called for a cease-fire in the conflict, which has claimed the lives of more than 200 Palestinians and 10 Israelis. 

lc/nm (Reuters, AFP)