WEF criticised for "inappropriate" Gaza debate

The Palestinian representative to Switzerland has criticised the World Economic Forum for holding an "imbalanced" debate on Gaza without any officials from the area.

This content was published on January 29, 2009 - 21:34

The debate on Thursday sparked controversy after Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan walked off the stage over a disagreement with Israeli President Shimon Peres about fighting in Gaza.

The Palestinian representative to Bern issued a statement on Friday saying they were "appalled" and found it "inappropriate and partial" that an important panel was held to discuss the situation in Gaza without a Palestinian representative and with Peres on the other side.

The prime minister of the Palestinian Authority had been invited to attend the forum but had been unable to attend because of the Israeli military operations in the Gaza Strip, the statement continued.

"The WEF organisers missed an opportunity to invite an independent personality or another Palestinian representative who would have been able to speak in the name of all the victims. We firmly believe that the voices of Palestinian victims should have been heard during this debate," the statement concluded.

Angered at being cut off by a panel moderator after listening to an impassioned monologue by Peres defending Israel's recent offensive in the Gaza Strip, Erdoğan said the Israelis were killing people.

Peres replied that the Turkish prime minister would have done the same if rockets had been falling on Istanbul.

The pair later had a "friendly conversation" by telephone and the WEF founder and president Klaus Schwab later told a news briefing that he regretted the incident.

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