Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan yesterday blasted Israeli premier Benjamin Netanyahu as a “tyrant” who “massacred” Palestinian children as the two leaders exchanged insults in their latest spat.
Erdogan was responding to earlier comments from Netanyahu who slammed the Turkish leader as a “dictator” and “a joke”, after a day of tit-for-tat exchanges between government officials in both countries. Turkey and Israel have tense relations and Erdogan, who regards himself as a champion of the Palestinian cause, is a vocal critic of Israeli policies. The two leaders have exchanged barbs in the past over Gaza.
“Hey Netanyahu, behave yourself. You are a tyrant, you are a tyrant who massacred seven-year-old Palestinian children,” Erdogan told a rally of supporters in the Turkish capital Ankara.
Erdogan also referred to clashes between Israeli police and Palestinians in Jerusalem, denouncing Israeli security forces for entering a “holy place”.
“Do not provoke. Look, we have not oppressed any of the Jews in this country. We have not done anything you did to any synagogues here. Don’t provoke us. We will not fall into this trap.”
Netanyahu swiftly hit back on Twitter later yesterday.
“Erdogan, the dictator who sends tens of thousands of political opponents to prison, commits genocide against the Kurds, and occupies Northern Cyprus, preaches to me, to Israel, and to the Israel Defense Forces, about democracy and the ethics of war. A joke,” Netanyahu wrote.
“It’s best that he doesn’t get involved with Jerusalem, our capital for 3,000 years. Erdogan can only learn from us how to respect every religion and protect human rights.” The latest exchange came after Netanyahu called Israel the nation-state of “the Jewish people” only, not all its citizens. That comment prompted Turkey on Tuesday to accuse the Israeli leader of “blatant racism”.