Israeli FM confronts Erdogan over Israel slander following historic electoral loss

Erdoğan’s outrageous remarks culminated last month, seemingly threatening to assassinate Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

By Joshua Marks, JNS

Israel’s Foreign Minister Israel Katz on Sunday claimed that the historic defeat of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his party earlier in the day was due to his hostility to the Jewish state.

In an X post written in Turkish, Katz congratulated Istanbul Mayor Ekrem Imamoglu, who was in the lead to retain his seat in the country’s largest city with most of the votes counted, and Ankara Mayor Mansur Yavas, who also will continue to serve in the capital.

“This is a clear message to @RTErdogan: Attacking Israel no longer works, he needs to find new materials,” Katz concluded.

The opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) won 15 other mayoral races nationwide in the worst defeat suffered by Erdogan and his ruling Justice and Development Party (AK) since the party took power in 2003, according to Reuters.

Analysts attributed the stunning loss, which Erdogan called a “turning point” in a late-night address in Ankara, to soaring inflation, disaffected Islamist voters and the wider appeal of Imamoglu in Istanbul beyond the CHP’s secular base.

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“Those who do not understand the nation’s message will eventually lose,” Imamoglu, 53, told supporters on Sunday night, as quoted by Reuters. The former businessman is being touted as a likely challenger to unseat Erdogan, who assumed office in 2014 as the nation’s 12th president.

“Tonight, 16 million Istanbul citizens sent a message to both our rivals and the president,” Imamoglu continued.

Israel-Turkish relations went through a long cold spell in recent years, mainly due to Erdogan’s hostile reaction to the 2008 war against Hamas and the 2010 Mavi Marmara flotilla incident.

However, the icy relations between Jerusalem and Ankara had been thawing before the Hamas-led attack of Oct. 7, highlighted by the two countries restoring full diplomatic relations in 2022.

These burgeoning ties took a nosedive when Erdogan decided to side with the terrorist group in its war against Israel.

In October, Jerusalem recalled its diplomats over the Turkish government’s “increasingly harsh statements.”

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Erdogan’s increasingly belligerent stance and outrageous remarks culminated in Katz last month ordering the dressing down of Turkey’s deputy ambassador after Erdogan seemingly threatened to assassinate Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

“I ordered the summons of the Turkish deputy ambassador to Israel for a severe reprimand, against the background of Erdoğan’s threats to send Netanyahu to Allah,” tweeted Katz.

“And to convey a clear message to Erdogan: You, who support the baby-burners, murderers, rapists and mutilators of Hamas, are the last one who can speak about God,” continued Katz. “There is no God who will listen to those who support the atrocities and crimes against humanity committed by your barbaric friends from Hamas. Be quiet and ashamed!”

At an election rally, Erdogan had threatened to “send [Netanyahu] to Allah to take care of him, make him miserable and curse him,” according to Turkish media reports.

Earlier in March, Erdogan compared Netanyahu and his government to Nazi Germany.

“Netanyahu and his administration, with their crimes against humanity in Gaza, are writing their names next to Hitler, Mussolini and Stalin, like today’s Nazis,” he said.

Erdogan also placed Ankara firmly on the side of Hamas, which he denied was a terrorist organization. “Hamas is not a terrorist organization, but rather a resistance, and we stand firmly behind them and [are] in constant contact with its leaders,” he said.

Netanyahu blasted the Turkish leader over the remarks, saying, “Israel observes the laws of war and will not be subject to moral preaching from Erdogan, who supports murderers and rapists of the Hamas terrorist organization, denies the Armenian genocide, massacres Kurds in his own country and cracks down on regime opponents and journalists.”

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In December, the Turkish president said Netanyahu was “no different” than Hitler. A month earlier, Erdogan told his country’s parliament that Israel would soon be destroyed.

The hostile atmosphere in Turkey prompted Israel’s National Security Council to issue a travel warning for Israelis not to visit the country.