Following envoy, Turkey expels Israeli consul over Gaza violence
May 17, 2018, 01:05
Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim on Tuesday invited his counterparts from five countries to join an emergency summit of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to discuss the killings of Palestinians at Gaza border in the ongoing clashes with the Israeli army.
Israel fired back Tuesday and asked the Turkish Consul General in Jerusalem to also temporarily leave.
The Turkish Foreign Ministry on May 16 told Israel's Consul General in Istanbul Yosef Levi Sfari to leave the country "for a while" following indiscriminate violence and killings by Israeli soldiers along the Gaza border which has left over 60 dead.
The Turkish Foreign Ministry ordered Israeli Ambassador Eitan Naeh to leave the country for consultations for an undetermined period of time.
The move was extraordinary in that Israel rarely interacts with foreign diplomats dealing exclusively with the Palestinians.
Ankara has been a vocal critic of the Israeli violence against Palestinians in Gaza and the opening of the USA embassy in Jerusalem.
Ankara has reacted with fury to the killings, which came on the same day as the USA formally moved its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv.
Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Twitter Erdogan was in no position to "preach morality to us" because he supported the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas which rules Gaza.
Erdogan tweeted back that Netanyahu was the leader of "an apartheid state that has occupied a defenseless people's lands for 60+ years in violation of United Nations resolutions", adding that he was criticising Turkey to deflect attention.
Erdogan, who regards himself as a champion of the Palestinian cause, this week has accused Israel of "genocide" and told Netanyahu he is leading an "apartheid state" while having the "blood of Palestinians" on his hands.
Ankara reacted with fury to the clashes, which came on the same day the United States formally moved its embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in defiance of global criticism. "No, you are not right", Erdogan said.
In one of his most vehement broadsides ever against the Jewish state, Erdogan also announced three days of national mourning over the deaths, as well as a giant protest in Istanbul on Friday.
"The world stands in solidarity with the people of Palestine against their oppressors".
There have been demonstrations against Israel in Istanbul and in the capital Ankara.
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