PARIS: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hit back at Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Sunday after he labelled Israel a “state that kills children,” calling him a leader who bombs Kurdish villagers and supports terrorists.
“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,” Netanyahu said at a press conference with French President Emmanuel Macron.
“That is not the man who is going to lecture us.”
Erdogan described on Saturday Israel as a “state of occupation” which used “terror” against the Palestinians, as he stepped up his criticism of the US recognition of Jerusalem as its capital.
Erdogan has been bitterly opposed to the decision of US President Donald Trump to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and has called a summit of Islamic countries on December 13 in Istanbul.
“Israel is a state of occupation,” Erdogan said in a speech in Istanbul, referring to Israel’s continued occupation of the West Bank and settlement building. “And now they are making use of terror and are bombing young people and children.”
Erdogan, who regards himself as a champion of the Palestinian cause and an opponent of any perceived global injustice against Muslims, described Jerusalem as the “apple of our eye” and a “red line” for Muslims.
He said that the American decision was “null and void” for Ankara.
“Trump seeks to move forward by saying ‘there we go, I did it, it’s done!’. I’m sorry but… being strong does not give you such a right.”
“The leaders of major countries have a mission to make peace. Not unleash conflicts.
On Saturday, Erdogan continued to play a central role in diplomatic efforts in the crisis, telephoning French President Emmanuel Macron and Lebanese President Michel Aoun, the presidency said.
Last year, Turkey and Israel ended a rift triggered by Israel’s storming in 2010 of a Gaza-bound ship that left 10 Turkish activists dead and led to a downgrading of diplomatic ties.
The two sides have since stepped up cooperation, particularly in energy, but Erdogan has repeatedly been bitterly critical of Israeli policy.
Last week he warned that Turkey’s reaction “could go as far as” cutting relations with Israel, but he made no reference to this in his latest speech.