Thousands of jubilant supporters gathered at Istanbul airport to
welcome their prime minister home on Friday after he publicly
confronted the Israeli president over the Gaza war.
lauded Mr. Erdogan, chanting "We are proud of you and we will always
stand with you" as his plane returned him home from the World Economic
Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
'You kill people' Erdogan told Peres
During the forum, Israel's
offensive against Hamas erupted into a tense standoff at a panel
discussion Thursday, and ended when Mr. Erdogan told Israeli President
Shimon Peres: "You kill people," and then walked off the stage.
Addressing the crowd the prime minister was a in defiant mood.
said "we are going to stand firm but we are not going to get into
conflict. We stood firm, and we will continue standing firm. This is
what people expect of the Turkish Nation."
Turkish media support PM's decision
Mr. Erdogan's decision
to walk out of a debate with Israeli President Shimon Peres is broadly
supported in the Turkish media. One newspaper's headline read: "Erdogan
Gives Peres a Lesson". Another newspaper referred to it as an
On the streets of Istanbul there appears to be widespread support.
support the prime minister," one man said. "It is important to
speak out about what is happening in the Gaza, as the world has
remained silent. He is right [with] what he did."
Many surprised about Turkey-Israel tension
walkout is the climax to increasingly tough criticism by Turkey of
Israel's offensive in Gaza. Earlier this month Mr. Erdogan said Israel
would be damned for its actions, accusing it of crimes against
humanity. He also called for Israel to be suspended from the United
Israel and Turkey have traditionally strong ties, and
this tough anti-Israel rhetoric surprised much of the international
Despite the benefits to Erdogan's popular appeal in
Turkey and the Muslim world, his comment appeared to put at risk
efforts it has made as a Middle East mediator, analysts say.