Israel slams Erdogan claim that it is inflaming anti-Semitism
The Israeli Foreign Ministry responded sharply Tuesday to fresh criticism by Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan, who said earlier in the day that Israeli policy is inflaming global anti-Semitism.
In an address to members of his Justice and Development Party in parliament earlier in the day, Erdogan, who has in recent weeks condemned Israel's treatment of the Palestinians, blamed the Israeli government for rising anti-Semitism in the world.
In its first statement since the crisis between the two states began, the ministry rejected "the statements and implications made by Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan."
Turkey recalled its ambassador to Israel and another top diplomat earlier this month for "consultations" but said the move was strictly routine. The diplomats returned within days.
NATO's only Muslim member has close economic and military ties with Israel despite supporting Palestinian statehood. But Israel's crackdown on Palestinian militants, including assassinations of their leaders, has strained relations.
"We agree [with Israel] on most issues, but we think differently on one or two matters," Erdogan said.
"We don't have a problem with the Israeli people, but unfortunately, the Israeli administration's current actions are increasing anti-Semitism in the world."
Europe has seen a rise in attacks on Jews coinciding with an upsurge in violence since the outbreak of the intifada in September 2000.
Erdogan said Israel, a major arms producer, could not compare itself militarily to the Palestinians.
"While Palestinians are using stones as weapons, your [Israel's] helicopters are raining bombings," he said.
Israel said in response that, "The latest statements add to a series of recent remarks that unfortunately do not reflect our reality. Israel is not fighting against stones but against the terror of suicide bombers, which has claimed the lives of some 1,000 Israelis over the past few years, Erdogan should address these facts when addressing the matter.
"Turkey's allegations that Israel's security measures contribute to anti-Semitism is inappropriate and only reinforces those wishing to harm the Jewish people, the statement said.
"At a time when the international community is supporting Sharon's proposed disengagement plan aimed at advancing peace in the region, those wishing to promote the process should display a balanced and realistic view of the situation in the area."
Erdogan, whose party traces its roots to political Islam, has offered to help mediate in the Middle East conflict, but he also accused Israel of "state terrorism" during an interview to Haaretz in March, for its assassination of Hamas leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin.