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Erdogan, Netanyahu trade accusations over controversial Israeli law

ANKARA, JERUSALEM: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday branded Israel the “most fascist, racist state” in the world after Israel’s Parliament passed a new law defining the country as the nation state of the Jewish people.

Reacting to Erdogan’s comments, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Turkey was becoming “a dark dictatorship.”
The legislation, adopted after a tumultuous Knesset session, makes Hebrew the national language and defines the establishment of Jewish communities as being in the national interest. Arabic, previously considered an official language, was granted only special status.
“This is a defining moment in the annals of Zionism and the history of the state of Israel,” Netanyahu had told the Knesset.
The issue is the latest source of tension between Israel and Turkey, one of the Jewish state’s few key Muslim partners.
The EU’s Foreign Affairs chief, Federica Mogherini, also expressed her concern last week, saying the law would complicate a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict.
“This measure has shown without leaving the slightest room for doubt that Israel is the world’s most Zionist, fascist and racist state,” Erdogan said in a speech to his ruling party.
Erdogan claimed there was “no difference between Hitler’s obsession with the Aryan race and Israel’s understanding that these ancient lands are meant only for Jews.”
“The spirit of Hitler, which led the world to a great catastrophe, has found its resurgence among some of Israel’s leaders,” he added.
Around 6 million Jews were killed in the Holocaust by the Nazis during World War II.
Erdogan said Israel had shown itself to be a “terror state” by attacking Palestinians with tanks and artillery, adding that the move would “drown the region and world in blood and suffering.”
Hitting back on the Turkish president, Netanyahu accused him of “massacring Syrians and Kurds” and imprisoning “tens of thousands of his citizens.”
Ankara ordered out Israel’s ambassador in May over the killing of protesters along the border with the Gaza Strip.
The protests, which were against the controversial opening of the US Embassy in Jerusalem on the same day, were the peak of months of border demonstrations.
At least 63 Palestinians were killed on May 14, making it the most bloody day in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict since a 2014 war.
The strains have threatened a 2016 deal on normalizing ties after the crisis sparked by the May 2010 deadly storming of a Turkish ship by Israeli commandos.
Erdogan regards himself as a champion of the Palestinians and has twice recently held summits of Muslim states to denounce the recognition by the US of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
Arab citizens account for 17.5 percent of Israel’s more than 8 million population. They have long complained of discrimination.
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