Israel orders Turkish consul in Jerusalem to leave

Jerusalem: Israel ordered the Turkish consul in Jerusalem to leave for an unspecified period of time Tuesday, the foreign ministry said, after Turkey demanded the same of the Israeli ambassador in Ankara over violence on the Gaza border.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had also launched a bitter attack on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, saying he led an “apartheid state” and had Palestinian blood on his hands.

Israeli forces killed 60 Palestinians during protests and clashes along the Gaza border on Monday, the bloodiest day in the conflict since a 2014 war.

“The Turkish consul in Jerusalem was summoned this afternoon to the ministry of foreign affairs and was asked to return to his country for consultations for a certain period,” an Israeli foreign ministry statement said.

Consuls general based in Jerusalem typically act as diplomatic representatives for the Palestinian territories.

Israel is under mounting international pressure amid calls for an independent probe into the violence.

It rejects the criticism, saying its open-fire rules are necessary to defend its border.

Netanyahu and Erdogan, a strong backer of the Palestinians, have regularly traded insults and the diplomatic row marked the worst crisis between the countries since a 2016 reconciliation deal.

Earlier Tuesday, Netanyahu hit back at Erdogan after he accused Israel of “state terror” and “genocide”.

“Erdogan is one of the biggest supporters of Hamas, so there’s no doubt he’s an expert on terror and slaughter,” Netanyahu said in a Hebrew-language Twitter post.

“I’d suggest he doesn’t preach morality to us.”

Turkey was once Israel’s closest military and diplomatic ally in the Middle East but ties began to deteriorate when Ankara criticised Israel’s December 2008 to January 2009 offensive against Gaza.

Relations then nosedived on May 31, 2010 when Israeli naval commandos stormed a Turkish-registered protest ship, the Mavi Mara, part of a flotilla attempting to break the Israeli blockade of the Palestinian territory.

Nine Turkish activists were killed in the operation.

Agence France-Presse