Turkey, Is­rael re­call en­voys in es­ca­lat­ing row

Manila Bulletin - - World News -

IS­TAN­BUL (AFP) – Turkey and Is­rael on Tues­day or­dered en­voys to leave in tit-for-tat moves and ex­changed bit­ter ac­cu­sa­tions as a row over the Is­raeli army's killing of dozens of Pales­tini­ans threat­ened a 2016 rec­on­cil­i­a­tion deal.

Turk­ish Pres­i­dent Re­cep Tayyip Er­do­gan hit back at Prime Min­is­ter Ben­jamin Ne­tanyahu on Twit­ter by call­ing Is­rael an ''apartheid state'' as Ankara or­dered the Is­raeli am­bas­sador to leave.

Ei­tan Naeh was sum­moned to the Turk­ish for­eign min­istry and told to ''re­turn to his coun­try for a pe­riod of time'', said a for­eign min­istry of­fi­cial who asked not to be named.

Is­rael re­sponded by or­der­ing the Turk­ish con­sul in Jerusalem to leave for an un­spec­i­fied pe­riod of time, its for­eign min­istry said.

Naeh had only been in his post since De­cem­ber 2016 af­ter a rec­on­cil­i­a­tion deal ear­lier that year ended a dis­pute over the May 2010 deadly storm­ing of a Turk­ish ship by Is­raeli com­man­dos that saw re­la­tions down­graded for more than half a decade.

That deal was strongly backed by the United States, which was keen to see Is­rael make up with one of its very few key Mus­lim part­ners.

Turkey had al­ready called back its am­bas­sador to Tel Aviv -- as well as its en­voy to Wash­ing­ton -- for con­sul­ta­tions over the killing of 60 Pales­tini­ans by Is­raeli forces along the Gaza bor­der on Mon­day.

Ankara has re­acted with fury to the killings, which came on the same day as the US for­mally moved its em­bassy in Is­rael to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv.

Er­do­gan, cur­rently on a visit to Bri­tain, had on Mon­day stepped up his rhetoric, ac­cus­ing Is­rael of ''state ter­ror'' and ''geno­cide'' over the killings.

Prime Min­is­ter Ben­jamin Ne- tanyahu hit back at Er­do­gan, with a tweeted jibe in He­brew that as a lead­ing sup­porter of Pales­tinian Is­lamist group Ha­mas ''there's no doubt he's an ex­pert on ter­ror and slaugh­ter''.

Re­spond­ing on Twit­ter in English, Er­do­gan said: ''Ne­tanyahu is the PM of an apartheid state that has oc­cu­pied a de­fence­less peo­ple's lands for 60+ yrs in vi­o­la­tion of UN res­o­lu­tions.''

''He has the blood of Pales­tini­ans on his hands and can't cover up crimes by at­tack­ing Turkey,'' he added.

In a later tweet ti­tled ''Re­minder to Ne­tanyahu'', Er­do­gan de­nied that Ha­mas is a ter­ror group, say­ing it is a ''re­sis­tance move­ment that de­fends the Pales­tinian home­land against an oc­cu­py­ing power''.

Af­ter talks with Bri­tish Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May, Er­do­gan warned that his­tory ''will not for­give'' Is­rael or the US for mov­ing the Amer­i­can em­bassy to Jerusalem in de­fi­ance of out­rage in the Is­lamic world.

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