Israeli Minister Hits Back: Erdogan Is the Enemy, Not Turkey

Turkish PM says 'Turkey's problem is with Israel's government, not its people,' says the country will continue to fight Israel's 'piracy,' seek solutions to fight Gaza flotilla raid within international law.

Tourism Minister Stas Misezhnikov slammed Turkish Prime Minister Recap Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday, saying  that while Turkey isn't Israel's enemy, Erdogan is.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaking in Istanbul

"The Turkish people aren't the enemy, but Erdogan is Israel's enemy," said Misezhnikov in response to Erdogan's earlier comments that Turkey's problem is with the Israeli government, and not the Israeli people.

"This isn't a healthy situation, and unless he leaves office there is no room for optimism," Misezhnikov said during a cultural event in Bat Yam. He added that there are indications that Erdogan isn't speaking as a representative of the Turkish people and that the country is divided in its support for him.

The tourism minister also called on Israelis to heed the government's warnings and refrain from traveling to Turkey. The tourism ministry is due to meet on Sunday to discuss ways to draw travelers toward staying in Israel for their summer vacation.

Earlier on Saturday, Erdogan said that his country did not have a problem with Israel's people but rather with its government's policies, the Turkish news agency Andolu reported.

The Turkish PM stressed that his country would continue to investigate Israel's attack on the Turkish-flagged aid flotilla the Mavi Marmara in which nine activists were killed.

"We have not remained silent against this piracy and injustice, and we will not do so, and we will seek solutions within the framework of international law," Erdogan told reporters in Ankara.

Meanwhile United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged Israel to agree to an international investigation of its deadly commando raid on the Turkish ship trying to bring aid to Gaza and do "much more" to meet the needs of the Palestinians living there.

Ban said Friday that Israel's investigation of the May 31 flotilla raid is important but won't have "international credibility," which is why he is continuing to urge the Israeli government to agree to an international panel with Israeli and Turkish participation.

Last week Israel, under mounting international pressure, formed an internal five-person panel - including two foreign observers - to investigate events surrounding its May 31 interception of a six ship convoy heading to the Gaza Strip.