ANKARA, Turkey (AP) - Israel should be barred from the United Nations while it ignores the organization's calls to stop fighting in Gaza, Turkey's prime minister said Friday, urging the world not to turn a blind eye to Israel's "savagery."
"How is such a country, which totally ignores and does not implement resolutions of the U.N. Security Council, allowed to enter through the gates of the U.N.?" Recep Tayyip Erdogan said.
Erdogan spoke before U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon arrived in Ankara. Erdogan's comments reflected growing anger in Turkey, Israel's best friend in the Muslim world, over Israel's Gaza operation.
Ban is on a weeklong trip to the region to promote a truce after both Israel and Hamas leaders in Gaza ignored a U.N. resolution demanding an immediate cease-fire.
"The U.N. building in Gaza was hit while the U.N. secretary-general was in Israel," Erdogan said. "This is an open challenge to the world."
Erdogan told Ban at a banquet that Turkey was disappointed the United Nations did not assume a more active role in Gaza, the state-run Anatolia news agency reported on Friday.
"All border crossings with Gaza must be opened to alleviate the suffering of civilians and Israeli soldiers must simultaneously and urgently leave Gaza," Anatolia quoted Erdogan as saying. "Turkey is ready for any mission in each and every step the U.N. will take."
Ban said Turkey's proposals were important, Anatolia said.
Israel infuriated the U.N. when it shelled the world body's headquarters Thursday in Gaza City, where hundreds of Gazans were seeking shelter. The destruction added to what aid groups say is a humanitarian crisis in Gaza.
In an anti-Israel demonstration in Istanbul after Friday prayers, about 1,500 pro-Islamic protesters chanted "We're all soldiers of Hamas!" And police in Ankara used pepper spray to disperse hundreds of protesters. Several shops were damaged during the clashes in downtown Kizilay district.
Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor rebuffed Erdogan's criticism.
"Maybe if Turkey had voted more with Israel at the U.N. and expressed its anger when Hamas was firing rockets indiscriminately on Israeli civilians, it could have contributed more to bringing peace to southern Israel and Gaza" than by making such statements, Palmor said.
(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)