Turkey, Israel recall envoys in escalating row
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.