LONDON (Reuters) - Outspoken media mogul Ted Turner was quoted Tuesday as saying Israel was engaged in "terrorism" against the Palestinians that could be compared to the suicide bomber attacks on Israelis.
"Right now, aren't the Israelis and the Palestinians both terrorizing each other?" the 63-year-old billionaire founder of 24-hour news network CNN said in an interview with the Guardian newspaper.
"The rich and the powerful, they don't need to resort to terrorism ... The Palestinians are fighting with human suicide bombers -- that's all they have.
"The Israelis...they've got one of the most powerful military machines in the world. The Palestinians have nothing. So who are the terrorists? I would make the case that both sides are involved in terrorism."
Israel was condemned by the U.N. General Assembly last month for a West Bank offensive launched in March after a spate of suicide bombings. Palestinians have accused the Israeli army of using excessive force and violating human rights law in the six-week operation that ended early last month.
Israel has defended the offensive, which it says was aimed at flushing out at militants and halting Palestinian attacks on innocent Israeli civilians.
There has been a renewed wave of Palestinian suicide bombings since the beginning of the month, and Islamic militant groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad have indicated they do not intend to abandon their suicide operations.
At least 1,401 Palestinians and 511 Israelis have been killed since the Palestinian uprising against Israeli occupation began in September 2000 after peace talks stalled.
Israeli government spokesman Daniel Seaman lashed out at Turner's comments as "stupid."
"My only advice to Ted Turner is if people assume you are stupid, it is just best to keep your mouth shut rather than open your mouth and confirm everyone in that view," Seaman was quoted as saying by the Guardian.
Turner, now vice chairman of AOL Time Warner Inc, which owns CNN, also acknowledged in the Guardian interview he had used an "unfortunate choice of words" when he said in a speech earlier this year that the hijackers who flew planes into the World Trade Center and Pentagon ( news - web sites) on Sept. 11 were "brave."
Turner said he tended to overuse the word as owner of the Atlanta Braves baseball team.
"I chose accidentally to say that they (the hijackers) were brave ... I use that word so often, it just pops out," he said.