Erdogan sues rival for comparing him to Netanyahu

Erdogan sues rival for comparing him to Netanyahu
2 min read
Erdogan rejected claims that Netanyahu was a friend of Turkey's, reiterating his stance against Israel amid its ongoing offensive on Gaza and sued a rival for comparing him to the Israeli PM
Turkish President Recip Tayyip Erdogan. [Getty]

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday sued a nationalist rival for comparing him to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, official media reported.

Iyi Party (Good Party) leader Meral Aksener, a conservative nationalist who has been dubbed Turkey's "Iron Lady", said in parliament on Tuesday that Netanyahu and Erdogan used similar tactics to hold on to power.

She said Netanyahu's recent campaign against armed Palestinian groups in Gaza, which Erdogan has furiously opposed, was driven by politics and a desire to gain public support after four inconclusive elections in two years.

"Erdogan's Israel version, Benjamin Netanyahu, did not hesitate to target the lives of civilians and children to scupper his political rivals and protect his seat," she said.

In a televised chat with young people late Wednesday, Erdogan called Aksener's comments "immoral".

"I have not met Netanyahu," Erdogan said. "Netanyahu has never been and will never be our friend."

Erdogan's lawsuit is seeking 250,000 liras ($30,000) in damages, the Anadolu news agency reported on Thursday.

Erdogan's angry condemnation of Israel's military operation has drew sharp criticism from the United States, which accused the Turkish leader of making "anti-Semitic" remarks.

"They are murderers, to the point that they kill children who are five or six years old," Erdogan said this week.

Erdogan, whose support for the Palestinian cause has helped him gained support across the Middle East, defended himself on Wednesday, vowing to "cry at the highest volume wherever we see cruelty".

"If a price is to be paid to... speak up for the innocent, we will never hesitate to pay it," he said in a televised speech. 

At least 231 Palestinians, including at least 64 children, have been killed in Gaza since the start of the Israeli bombardment which began on 10 May.

The death toll also continues to surge in the West Bank and Occupied East Jerusalem, with at least 25 killed since the violence commenced.

More than 6,000 others have been wounded across the Palestinian territories.

It is worth noting that Turkey and Israel formalised their ties in 1949, making it the first Muslim-majority nation to recognise Israel.