Turkey PM: Netanyahu Has Worst Government in History of Israel

Erdogan tells Al-Jazeera that Lieberman is Israel's 'greatest problem' and urges the Israeli public to 'get rid' of him; he also denies Western definition of Hamas as a terrorist movement and declares peace impossible until they are brought into negotiations.

Turkish Prime Minister Tayyep Recep Erdogan on Thursday decried Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government as the "worst" in the history of Israel.

The once close ties between Israel and Turkey began faltering following the war in Gaza two years ago and spiraled to an unprecedented low following Israel's deadly raid on a Turkish-flagged aid flotilla bound for the Gaza Strip last May.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
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In an interview with Al-Jazeera, Erdogan said that Turkey would uphold the chill in relations until Israel relented in its refusal to apologize for the raid and compensate the families of the nine pro-Palestinian activists killed aboard the Mavi Marmara.

"As long as Netanyahu's government does not change its policies, it cannot expect us to change ours," Erdogan told Al-Jazeera.

Erdogan added that Turkey had no interest in renewing any of the accords it had signed with Israel and would also consider refreshing relations once Israel acceded to its demands.

Erdogan also deemed Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman Israel's "greatest problem", reacting to the latter's remarks that Turkey's demands for apology were cheeky ("chutzpah"). The Turkish premier told interviewers that the Israel public should "get rid" of Lieberman, who he called a "despicable" man.

"It is up to them, not us" to unseat Lieberman, said Erdogan, adding: "If they don't, Israel's problems will only get worse."

Erdogan also voiced support for the Hamas rulers of Gaza and denied the Western definition of the group as terrorists.

"Hamas is not a terrorist movement. They are people defending their land. It is a movement that entered the elections and won," he declared, adding that the group has never been given the chance to rule as a democratic regime.

The Turkish premier added that Hamas must be brought into negotiations for a permanent settlement to the conflict, declaring that without their input Palestinian-Israel peace was impossible.