Israel Won’t Be Lectured by a Country That Occupies Cyprus, Netanyahu Tells Erdogan

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gestures as he delivers a speech during the Israel Presidential Conference in Jerusalem on June 20, 2013. Europe must take a firmer line with Iran over its controversial nuclear programme, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said at the start of a working meeting with EU …

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has hit back at Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan after he called Israel an “apartheid state”, telling the near east autocrat he will not take lessons from a country that occupies Cyprus.

President Erdoğan tweeted on Tuesday that Mr. Netanyahu is the Prime Minister of an “apartheid state that has occupied a defenseless people’s lands for 60+ yrs in violation of UN resolutions”.

Prime Minister Netanyahu tweeted in response that the Islamist leader “is among Hamas’s biggest supporters and there is no doubt that he well understands terrorism and slaughter. I suggest that he not preach morality to us.”

“A man who sends thousands of Turkish soldiers to maintain the occupation of Northern Cyprus and invades Syria will preach to us as we defend ourselves from infiltration attempt by Hamas,” he added in an official statement, according to The Times of Israel.

“A man whose hands are stained with the blood of countless Kurdish citizens in Turkey and Syria is the last to preach to us about military ethics.”

Turkey invaded Cyprus in 1974 following a Greek-inspired coup, resulting in the decades-long occupation of the north of the island and forcing a third of the country’s Greek population from their homes.

Israel and Turkey have been exchanging diplomatic blows since U.S. President Donald J. Trump moved the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem on Monday – poignantly, on the 70th anniversary of Israel’s declaration of independence in 1948 – recognising the holy city as the capital of the Jewish nation.

President Erdoğan, whose powers have been expanded since a referendum last year abolished the Turkish Prime Minister’s office, rejected the U.S. embassy’s move.

On Tuesday, Turkey recalled her ambassadors to Israel and the U.S. to protest the Israeli response to Palestinian riots along the Gaza border fence. The Islamist president called Israel a “terror state” and the Israeli Defense Forces’ actions “genocide”, resulting in Israel recalling her ambassador to Turkey.

Erdoğan began the diplomatic attacks on Israel during his three-day state visit to the UK where he met with Queen Elizabeth II and Prime Minister Theresa May.

Refusing to acknowledge Mrs. May’s remarks about human rights, which Turkey is frequently accused of abusing, the autocratic ruler called journalists jailed in his country “terrorists”.

In 2016, German Chancellor Angela Merkel allowed the prosecution of comedian Jan Böhmermann who was caught up in an obscure, but enforceable, law of defamation against foreign leaders case after he recited a lewd poem about Erdoğan.

The move followed pressure from the Turkish government, with the then-Deputy Prime Minister of Turkey, Numan Kurtulmuş, calling the poem a “serious crime against humanity”.

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