Erdogan (left) walks by Peres as he stalks off the stage at the World Economic Forum in Davos. (AP)
Davos, Jan. 30 (AP): Turkeys Prime Minister stalked off the stage at the World Economic Forum red-faced yesterday after reproaching Israels President over the Gaza offensive by saying you kill people.
The packed audience appeared stunned as Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Israeli President Shimon Peres raised their voices and traded accusations.
Peres was passionate in his defence of Israels three-week offensive against Hamas militants.
As he spoke, Peres often turned toward Erdogan, who in his remarks had criticised the Israeli blockade of Gaza, saying it was an open air prison, isolated from the rest of the world and referred to the Palestinian death toll of about 1,300, more than half of those civilians.
Why did they fire rockets? There was no siege against Gaza, Peres said, his voice rising in emotion. Why did they fight us, what did they want? There was never a day of starvation in Gaza.
The heated debate was significant because of the key role Turkey has played as a moderator between Israel and Syria.
Thousands of Erdogan supporters gave him a heros welcome as he arrived home in Istanbul hours later.
During the debate, Erdogan appeared to express a sense of disappointment when he recounted how he had met with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert days before the offensive, and believed they were close to reaching terms for a face-to-face meeting with Syrian leaders.
Erdogan was angry when a panel moderator cut off his remarks in response to Peres.
I find it very sad that people applaud what you said, Erdogan told the 85-year-old Peres. You killed people. And I think that it is very wrong.
The angry exchange followed an hour-long debate at the forum attended by world leaders in Davos. Erdogan tried to rebut Peres as the discussion was ending, asking the moderator, Washington Post columnist David Ignatius, to let him speak once more. Only a minute, Ignatius replied.
Mr Peres, you are older than me. Your voice is too loud, Erdogan said, adding the Israeli leaders emotion belied a guilty conscience.
When Erdogan was asked to stop, he angrily stalked off, leaving fellow panelists UN Secretary-General Ban-Ki moon and Arab League secretary Amr Moussa.