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Mar 13 2019

Turkey’s Erdoğan calls Netanyahu a tyrant massacring Palestinian children

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan called Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “a tyrant massacring Palestinian children”, Anadolu Agency reported on Wednesday.

Erdoğan’s comments came after Netanyahu on Wednesday labelled the Turkish president a “dictator” and “a joke” in the latest pre-election exchange of insults between the two leaders.

Erdoğan also called Netanyahu a thief, referring to the corruption and fraud charges currently faced by the Israeli prime minister.

“Don’t provoke us! We have never persecuted any Jews in this country. Do not provoke us, we will not fall into this trap, but we will call you to account for this in the international community. Nobody can make us forget our cause for Jerusalem,” Erdoğan said.

Israeli model and actress Rotem Sela started the latest spat, calling on Instagram for a government official to "convey to the public that Israel is a state of all its citizens”.

Netanyahu responded with his own Instagram message. “Israel is the nation-state of the Jewish people -- and only it,” he said on Monday, dismissing Arab Israelis, who make up some 20 percent of the population.

Turkish presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalın responded on Tuesday to Netanyahu's comments. "I strongly condemn this blatant racism and discrimination,” he wrote on Twitter.

Early Wednesday Netanyahu struck back, according to AFP.  "Turkey's dictator Erdoğan attacks Israel's democracy while Turkish journalists and judges fill his prisons," he said in a statement. "What a joke!"

Kalın promptly responded with another tweet. “After making racist remarks towards Arabs and Muslims, @netanyahu attacks President Erdoğan for exposing him. The apartheid state he leads occupies Palestinian lands, kills women & children & imprisons Palestinians in their own land. Lies and pressure will not hide your crimes,” he said.

Turkey and Israel have had tense relations in relations in recent years, in part because Erdoğan likes to champion the Palestinian cause. Last year, Erdoğan called Israel’s leader a “terrorist”, while Netanyahu said the Turkish president was ruining his country’s economy.

The exchange of insults seems to heat up in the lead-up to elections. Israel goes to the polls next month, with Netanyahu facing a tough challenge from a centrist political alliance. Erdoğan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), meanwhile, is likely to see tight races in several major cities for local elections on March 31.