With Turkey expelling the Israeli ambassador, Israel was left with no choice but to make a similar move, asking the Turkish consul to return to his country temporarily. This is the biggest diplomatic crisis between the two countries since they signed a reconciliation deal in 2016.

Erdoğan, Netanyahu

Erdoğan, Netanyahu Photo credit: Kremlin/GPO

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Tuesday called Israel “an apartheid state” and advised Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to “read the Ten Commandments” in order to learn about humanity.

“Netanyahu is the prime minister of an apartheid state that has occupied a defenseless people’s land for 60+ years in violation of UN resolutions,” Erdoğan tweeted. “He has the blood of Palestinians on his hands and can’t cover up crimes by attacking Turkey.”

Netanyahu tweeted in response, “Erdoğan is among Hamas’ biggest supporters and there is no doubt that he well understands terrorism and slaughter. I suggest that he not preach morality to us.” He added in Hebrew, “A man who sends thousands of Turkish soldiers to carry out the occupation of Northern Cyprus, and invades Syria, cannot preach to us as we defend ourselves from an attempted invasion by Hamas.”

This harsh exchange of words comes a day after 61 Palestinians were killed in clashes with Israeli forces during riots along the Gaza border. Ankara has since expelled the Israeli ambassador for an unspecified period of time, prompting Israel to ask the Turkish consul to leave the country as well.

Meanwhile, Turkish opposition members have been calling on Erdoğan to nullify the 2016 reconcilition agreement between Turkey and Israel.