ISTANBUL, Turkey — Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday sued a nationalist rival for comparing him to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, official media reported.
Iyi Party (Good Party) leader Meral Aksener, a conservative nationalist who has been dubbed Turkey’s “Iron Lady,” said in parliament on Tuesday that Netanyahu and Erdogan used similar tactics to hold on to power.
She said Netanyahu’s recent campaign against Palestinian terror groups in Gaza, which Erdogan has furiously opposed, was driven by politics and a desire to gain public support after four inconclusive elections in two years.
“Erdogan’s Israel version, Benjamin Netanyahu, did not hesitate to target the lives of civilians and children to scupper his political rivals and protect his seat,” she said.
In a televised chat with young people late Wednesday, Erdogan called Aksener’s comments “immoral.”
“I have not met Netanyahu,” Erdogan said. “Netanyahu has never been and will never be our friend.”
Erdogan’s lawsuit is seeking 250,000 liras ($30,000) in damages, the Anadolu news agency reported on Thursday.
Erdogan’s angry condemnation of Israel’s military operation has drawn sharp criticism from the United States, which accused the Turkish leader of making “anti-Semitic” remarks.
“They are murderers, to the point that they kill children who are five or six years old,” Erdogan said this week.
Erdogan, whose support for the Palestinian cause has helped him gained support across the Middle East, defended himself on Wednesday, vowing to “cry at the highest volume wherever we see cruelty.”
“If a price is to be paid to… speak up for the innocent, we will never hesitate to pay it,” he said in a televised speech.