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Netanyahu and Erdogan break diplomatic ties and trade insults


Benjamin Netanyahu. Photo: Reuters

Benjamin Netanyahu. Photo: Reuters

Benjamin Netanyahu. Photo: Reuters

Turkey and Israel expelled each other's senior diplomats yesterday.

Turkey has been one of the most vocal critics of Israel's response to the Gaza protests and of the opening of the US embassy in Jerusalem, recalling its ambassadors from Tel Aviv and Washington and calling for an emergency meeting of Islamic nations on Friday.

President Tayyip Erdogan described Monday's bloodshed as genocide and called Israel a terrorist state. The government declared three days of mourning.

"The Israeli ambassador was told that our envoy to Israel was called back for consultations, and was informed that it would be appropriate for him to go back to his country for some time," a Turkish foreign ministry source said.

Hours later, Israel's foreign ministry said the Turkish consul-general in Jerusalem had been summoned and told to return to Turkey "for consultations for a period of time".

The dispute appears to mark the worst diplomatic crisis between the two regional powers since Israeli marines stormed an aid ship to enforce a naval blockade of Gaza in 2010, killing 10 Turkish activists and prompting a downgrade in diplomatic ties that lasted until 2016.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tweeted that Mr Erdogan was in no position to "preach morality to us" because he supported the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas that rules Gaza. "There is no doubt he well understands terrorism and slaughter," he said.

Mr Erdogan tweeted back that Mr Netanyahu was the leader of "an apartheid state that has occupied a defenceless people's lands for 60+ years in violation of UN resolutions", adding that he was criticising Turkey to deflect attention.

"Want a lesson in humanity? Read the 10 commandments," he said.

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