PARIS — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday said Turkey’s president was a brutal dictator who supports Palestinian terrorist groups in their efforts to “kill innocent people,” as a war of words heated up between Israel and Turkey over US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem.
“I am not used to receiving lectures about morality from a leader who bombs Kurdish villagers in his native Turkey, who jails journalists, who helps Iran get around international sanctions, and who helps terrorists, including in Gaza, kill innocent people,” said Netanyahu.
“That is not the man who is going to lecture us,” Netanyahu said at a press conference with French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris.
Israel has long pressed Turkey to end its support for Hamas and not allow Hamas members to live in Turkey.
Netanyahu’s comments came after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan vowed to use “all means to fight” against the US recognition of Jerusalem as the country’s capital.
“Palestine is an innocent victim… As for Israel, it is a terrorist state, yes, terrorist!” Erdogan said. “We will not abandon Jerusalem to the mercy of a state that kills children.”
The Turkish leader has employed sharp rhetoric against Israel almost daily in the wake of Trump officially recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
On Saturday, Erdogan described Israel as a “state of occupation” that used “terror” against the Palestinians.
Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid also spoke out against Erdogan, invoking the Armenian genocide to denounce the Turkish president.
“Those who deny the murder of children in the Armenian genocide should not preach morality at us,” Lapid tweeted on Sunday.
Israel — along with other countries, including the United States and Germany — has refrained from formally recognizing the Armenian genocide over fears of angering Turkey. Lapid has publicly called on Israel to recognize the targeted mass killings of Armenians as genocide.
Israel and Turkey only last year restored diplomatic relations after years of frozen diplomatic ties in the wake of the so-called flotilla incident. In May 2010, Israeli troops raided the Gaza-bound Mavi Marmara ship, which was trying to break the Israeli security blockade on the Hamas-run Strip, and killed nine Turkish nationals aboard who attacked them violently. Israel has apologized and pledged to pay reparations to the families of the deceased.
In a White House speech last week, Trump defied worldwide warnings and insisted that after repeated failures to achieve peace a new approach was long overdue, describing his decision to recognize Jerusalem as the seat of Israel’s government as merely based on reality.
Trump stressed that he was not specifying the boundaries of Israeli sovereignty in the city, and called for no change in the status quo at the city’s holy sites.
The move was hailed by Netanyahu and by leaders across much of the Israeli political spectrum.
The change in longstanding US policy has sparked demonstrations across the Muslim world and led to days of unrest in the West Bank and Gaza.
Agencies contributed to this report.