Turkey, Israel Leaders Trade Barbs in Jerusalem Feud

Turkish and Israeli leaders exchanged mutual recriminations and traded ‘terrorist’ remarks in a feud sparked by U.S. President Donald J. Trump‘s move for recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called Israel a “terrorist state.” His charge elicited a swift rebuke from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

President Erdogan said he would fight against the controversial declaration, describing Israel as a “terrorist state” that kills children, in a speech in Istanbul.

Hours later Israel’s Prime Minister Netanyahu hit back, calling his counterpart a leader who bombs Kurdish villagers and supports terrorists, during an official visit to Paris.

The two countries had normalized relations in recent years, but Sunday’s flare-up came after Turkey was infuriated by the controversial U.S. move

Mr. Trump’s decision has sparked protests in Muslim and Arab countries for four days.

“Palestine is an innocent victim… As for Israel, it is a terrorist state, yes, terrorist!” Mr. Erdogan said in a speech in the central Turkish city of Sivas.

“We will not abandon Jerusalem to the mercy of a state that kills children.”

The Turkish president earlier described the status of Jerusalem, whose eastern sector Palestinians see as the capital of their future state, as a “red line” for Muslims.

Mr. Netanyahu was quick to counter the assault when he spoke later during a press conference alongside French President Emmanuel Macron.

“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 go around international sanctions, and who helps terrorists, including in Gaza, kill innocent people,” he said.

“That is not the man who is going to lecture us.”

The Israeli premier’s comments were immediately denounced by President Erdogan’s spokesman Ibrahim Kalin who said: “Instead of taking on our country and our leader, the Israeli authorities would do better to end their occupation of the Palestinian territories.”

The Turkish leader has used his position as the current chairman of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to call a summit of the pan-Islamic group on Wednesday.

“We will show that applying the measure will not be as easy as that,” he added on Sunday, referring to the U.S. recognition of Jerusalem.

He said it was “absurd” to deny the Jews’ “ancient connection” to Jerusalem.

During his speech, Mr. Erdogan held a picture of what he said was a 14-year-old Palestinian boy from Hebron, in the Occupied West Bank, being dragged away by Israeli soldiers.

Turkey and Israel had improved diplomatic ties in recent years but Mr. Erdogan has continued to defend the Palestinian cause and has regularly criticized Israeli policy

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Staff Writer

AFP with Staff Writer

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