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Erdogan and Netanyahu trade insults over Gaza

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The Israeli-Turkish diplomatic crisis escalated yesterday after the Turkish President and Israeli Prime Minister were involved in a highly undiplomatic war of words.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said: “Netanyahu is the PM of an apartheid state. … He has the blood of Palestinians on his hands and can’t cover up crimes by attacking Turkey.”

Netanyahu responded: “A man who sends thousands of Turkish soldiers to hold the occupation of northern Cyprus and invades Syria will not preach to us when we defend ourselves from an attempt by Hamas. A man whose hands are stained with the blood of countless Kurdish citizens in Turkey and Syria is the last person to preach to us about combat ethics.”

Israel’s Ambassador to Turkey, Eitan Na’eh was asked to leave the country on Tuesday but subjected to what the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs described as a “harsh and humiliating” security check. Naeh was frisked and requested by security personnel at Istanbul Airport to take off his shoes while an invited group of Turkish media broadcast and photographed the incident. Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon said: “Israel cannot suffer such conduct toward its representatives.” He called it “a blatant violation of the diplomatic code of conduct prevailing between countries”.

Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs summoned Turkish Charge d’Affaires Umut Deniz to a meeting to complain about an incident where Israel’s Ambassador to Turkey Eitan Na’eh was subjected to upon leaving the country. Israeli media were invited to broadcast and photograph the moment he entered the building and passed through security.

Deniz was told to use a certain entrance, the media were forewarned of his arrival and he was asked to hand over his passport when he arrived.

In response to Tuesday’s incident, Israel ordered the Turkish Consul-General in Jerusalem, Husnu Gurcan Turkoglu, who is responsible for Turkey’s relations with the Palestinians, to return home.

Turkey’s ambassador to Tel Aviv had already been recalled, as had Turkey’s Ambassador in Washington. In response to Israel’s expulsion of the Turkish envoy, Turkey summoned Israel’s Consul General in Istanbul, Yossi Levi Safri, and also asked him to leave the country.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said: “Netanyahu is the PM of an apartheid state. He has the blood of Palestinians on his hands and can’t cover up crimes by attacking Turkey.”

On Tuesday the Turkish embassy in Tel Aviv lowered its flag to half-mast as a sign of solidarity with Palestinians killed in Gaza.