Turkey's PM calls on Israel to immediately halt Gaza attacks
Turkey's Prime Minister and presidential candidate Recep Tayyip Erdogan has called on Israel to immediately halt its attacks on Gaza which have left more than 100 innocent Palestinians dead, Anadolu Agency reported.
While presenting his election manifesto at the Halic Congress Center in Istanbul on Friday, Erdogan said that one of three conditions needed to normalize Turkey's severed relations with Israel was an end to the blockade of Gaza.
Erdogan said: "While our brothers and sisters are being bombed and killed in Palestine and Gaza we cannot normalize relations with Israel."
"We will continue to loudly voice our support for the Palestinian cause."
At least 100 Gazans have been killed and hundreds more injured since July 7 in a series of unrelenting Israeli airstrikes that continued on Friday.
Israel claims the offensive is aimed at halting rocket fire emanating from the embattled Gaza Strip, which is home to some 1.8 million Palestinians.
Referring to the Syrian civil war, Erdogan said: "We will continue to support the Syrian people until their legitimate demands are met."
Syria has been gripped by almost constant fighting since the Bashar al-Assad regime launched a violent crackdown in response to anti-government protests back in March 2011, triggering a conflict that has spiraled into a bloody civil war.
The London-based Syrian Network for Human Rights said in its July 3 report that nearly 135,000 people, including 15,149 children and 13,695 women, have been killed in air and ground operations since March 2011 by President Bashar al-Assad's regime in opposition-held areas across Syria.
About 4,892 had been tortured to death, it claimed.
Erdogan, the Ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party's candidate for presidency, also presented his vision for the position and announced his election manifesto entitled: The New Turkey on its Way, and sub-titled: A Prosperous Society.
Erdogan lauded the accomplishments of his government within the last 12 years and said he would continue to serve his people if elected president, and would be the president of all of Turkey's 77 million people.
The Republican People's Party and the Nationalist Movement Party have chosen Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, the 71-year-old former head of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, as their candidate for the elections -- the first in Turkey where the president will be chosen by popular vote.
The Peoples' Democracy Party has nominated Selahattin Demirtas - the former Co-Chairman of the Pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party - as its presidential candidate.
Turkish voters will go to the polls on 10 August.
Should none of the candidates take more than 50 percent of the votes, a second round will take place on 24 August between the top two candidates.