Turkey's prime minister has returned home from the World Economic Forum in Davos to a warm welcome after he...
Turkey's prime minister has returned home from the World Economic Forum in Davos to a warm welcome after he stormed out of a debate over Israel's war on the Gaza Strip.
More than 5,000 people, many waving Palestinian and Turkish flags, greeted Recep Tayyip Erdogan after his aeroplane touched down early on Friday.
Erdogan walked out of a televised debate on Thursday with Shimon Peres, the Israeli president, after the moderator refused to allow him to rebut Peres' justification about the war.
Before storming out, Erdogan told Shimon Peres, the Israeli president: "You are killing people."
At least 1,300 Palestinians were killed during Israel's 22-day aerial, naval and ground assault on Gaza. Thirteen Israeli citizens died over the same period.
Speaking to Al Jazeera at the Swiss resort, Tony Blair, the Middle East envoy for the quartet of the European Union, Russia, the United Nations and the United States, said: "Given what's happened in Gaza it would be surprising if people didn't feel really strongly about it.
"Prime minister Erdogan, I know, because I spoke to him earlier in the day, feels passionately and really sad about what has happened to the people of Gaza.
"And it's inevitable that you get this kind of incident".
During the heated panel discussion, Peres told Erdogan that Turkey would have acted in the same manner as Israel if rockets had been falling on Istanbul.
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Moderator David Ignatius, a Washington Post columnist, then told Erdogan that he had "only a minute" to respond to a lengthy monologue by Peres.
Erdogan said: "I find it very sad that people applaud what you said. There have been many people killed. And I think that it is very wrong and it is not humanitarian."
Ignatius twice attempted to finish the debate, saying, "We really do need to get people to dinner."
Erdogan then said: "Thank you very much. Thank you very much. Thank you very much. I don't think I will come back to Davos after this."
Peres told reporters after the incident that Israel is not in conflict with Turkey.
"I don't see this as a personal or national problem. The relations can remain as they are. My respect [for him] hasn't changed. It was an exchange of views and views are views," he said.
Hamas, which has de facto control of the Gaza Strip after pushing Fatah fighters out of the territory in June 2007, commended Erdogan for his action.
"Hamas pays tribute to the courageous stand of Turkey's prime minister ...