Turkey’s foreign minister labels Netanyahu ‘a cold-blooded killer’

The Israeli-Turkish war of words escalates even as Trump and Erdogan consult.

By David Jablinowitz, World Israel News

The condemnations and retorts between Israeli and Turkish leaders are becoming fast and furious as Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu on Sunday called Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “a cold-blooded killer of modern times, responsible for massacres of thousands of innocent Palestinians, bombing children on beaches.”

The Turkish foreign minister blasted the Israeli premier after Netanyahu had said of Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that as “the occupier of northern Cyprus, whose army massacres women and children in Kurdish villages, inside and outside Turkey, [he] should not preach to Israel.”

Netanyahu’s statement was itself a reaction to a speech on Saturday by Erdogan, in which the Turkish president charged that “the Jews in Israel kick people lying on the ground. In fact, Jews don’t kick men, but also women and children when they fall on the ground.”

The once-close ties between Ankara and Jerusalem deteriorated in 2010 when the Turkish ship Mavi Marmara defied Israeli naval orders to stop its journey towards the shores of the Gaza Strip, prompting Israeli commandos to raid the flotilla, in which at least some of the passengers were armed. Nine Turkish citizens were killed in the clash that ensued.

Efforts to restore the binational ties again soured when Hamas led a storming of the Gazan-Israeli border by tens of thousands of people in May to protest the opening of a US embassy in Jerusalem. More than 60 people were killed by Israeli forces.

Erdogan has been at the forefront of periodic rhetoric against Israel, and upcoming elections in Turkey are seen as a possible incentive to step up the tough talk now.

However, the current verbal tit-for-tat also comes as U.S. President Donald Trump announced the withdrawal of American troops from Syria and then issued a statement, saying that President Erdogan had “very strongly informed me that he will eradicate whatever is left of ISIS in Syria….and he is a man who can do it.” Such a central role across Israel’s northern border for a leader who verbally blasts Israeli leaders might not sit well with officials in Jerusalem.