Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday compared Yair Netanyahu to the self-described white supremacist who gunned down 50 Muslim worshipers at a New Zealand mosque last week.
“Watch out, the statements of the son of the person who is the leader of Israel and those of the New Zealand terrorist are the same. They are fed by the same source,” Erdogan said during a speech in the northwestern city of Çanakkale, according to Turkey’s ATV News.
Brenton Tarrant, the Australian national who has been charged with the Christchurch killings, referred to Constantinople in a manifesto in which he threatened that Christianity would prevail once more in Istanbul and that mosques there would be destroyed.
“We are coming for Constantinople and we will destroy every mosque and every minaret in the city. The Hagia Sophia will be liberated from the minarets, and Constantinople will be rightfully Christian owned once more,” Tarrant said a passage in the manifesto, according to news reports.
Tarrant toured the region in 2016 and reportedly visited Israel, Turkey, Greece, Bulgaria, Turkey, Croatia, and Hungary.
Erdogan and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have been trading barbs in public and on Twitter for months. The younger Netanyahu joined the fray on Thursday when he posted that Istanbul — formerly Constantinople — was under Turkish occupation.
In response, on Sunday, the Turkish president urged Benjamin Netanyahu to “twist the ear” of his son as punishment.
Israel and Turkey formally ended a six-year diplomatic rift in 2016 that began when 10 Turkish activists were killed in a violent confrontation with Israeli naval commandos aboard the Mavi Marmara ship that aimed to break Israel’s naval blockade of the Gaza Strip.
But even since ties were reinstated, relations have remained very frosty. Erdogan has positioned himself as a champion of the Palestinian cause, is a close ally of Hamas and a vocal critic of Israeli policies and Gaza has been a frequent topic of the strong rhetoric between the two leaders.