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Lawmakers warn Turkey of payback over Iran, Israel policies

By the CNN Wire Staff
  • U.S. House members accuse Turkey of turning against Israel
  • Lawmakers warn they might back Armenian genocide resolution opposed by Turkey
  • House members angered by Turkey's ties with Iran, backing for flotilla that tried to break Israel blockade of Gaza

Washington (CNN) -- Supporters of Israel in the U.S. House warned Turkey on Wednesday they might support a resolution recognizing the Armenian genocide that so far has failed to come up for a vote by the full chamber.

Turkey opposes the resolution that would bring formal U.S. recognition of the 1915-1923 campaign by Turkey's Ottoman Empire against the Armenian population of eastern Anatolia region as genocide.

The resolution passed the House Foreign Affairs Committee by a single vote in March, but so far has not come up for debate by the full House. Turkey called home its U.S. ambassador to protest the House committee vote.

However, House members who have been unwilling to support the resolution now say they might change their minds due to Turkey's pro-Iranian moves and support for the recent effort to break Israel's blockade of Gaza.

"There will be a cost if Turkey stays on its present heading of growing closer to Iran and more antagonistic to the state of Israel," Rep. Mike Pence, R-Indiana, told a news conference. "It will bear upon my view and I believe the view of many members of Congress on the state of the relationship with Turkey."

In particular, Pence, said, "They need to understand going forward there's going to be a cost regarding the Armenian resolution."

Rep. Peter King, R-New York, echoed Pence in saying he was reconsidering his past opposition to taking up the Armenian genocide resolution.

King said he and "many" other House members believe there was an Armenian genocide, but have been reluctant to support the resolution due to the strategic U.S. relationship with Turkey.

"I think that's about to change," King said.

Turkey provided support to the recent flotilla of six ships that was stopped by the Israeli military from bringing aid to Gaza. Nine people -- all Turkish citizens -- died when Israeli commandos boarded the ships and violence ensued.

In response, Turkey has condemned Israel and led calls for an international investigation of the incident.

Turkey also has stepped up relations with Iran, joining Brazil recently in brokering an agreement with Iran intended to head off new U.S. sanctions over Iran's nuclear program.

The U.S. questioned the agreement and proceeded to win U.N. Security Council approval for the additional sanctions.

Pence and others told the news conference that such steps by Turkey must be opposed by the United States to demonstrate unwavering U.S. support for Israel.

Rep. Eliot Engel, D-New York, called the actions by Turkey "disgraceful" because Turkey is a NATO ally, while Rep. Shelley Berkley, D-Nevada, said she would actively oppose Turkey's bid to become part of the European Union.

"They don't deserve that recognition and they don't deserve to be a part of the EU until they start behaving more like European nations and a whole lot less like Iran," Berkley said.