Turkey orders Israeli consul to leave after Gaza row

Turkey orders Israeli consul to leave after Gaza row
Turkey has expelled the Israeli consul in Istanbul amid an escalating row between the two countries over Monday's massacre in Gaza.
2 min read
Erdogan and Netanyahu exchanged diplomatic blows on Twitter [Getty]

Turkey ordered the Israeli consul general in Istanbul to temporarily leave the country, on Wednesday, as the two countries engage in a war of words and series of diplomatic expulsions over Israel's massacre of Palestinians on the Gaza border on Monday.

The Turkish foreign ministry has told the consul to leave Turkey "for a period of time", the state-run Anadolu news agency said. 

Turkey had already withdrawn its ambassador in Tel Aviv for consultations and told the Israeli ambassador to Ankara to leave, while Israel ordered the Turkish consul in Jerusalem to leave for an unspecified period of time.

On Tuesday, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu exchanged bitter jibes on Twitter, which threatens a 2016 deal on normalising ties after a long-running crisis.

Turkey has expressed outrage over the killing by Israeli forces on Monday of at least 61 Palestinians on the Gaza border and also blamed tensions on the US decision to move its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv.

Erdogan will on Friday host an emergency summit meeting of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in Istanbul which he has said will send a "strong message to the world" on the issue.

Erdogan regards himself as a champion of the Palestinian cause and last year held a summit of Islamic countries to denounce US President Donald Trump's decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

The 2016 reconciliation deal ended a dispute over the May 2010 deadly storming of a Turkish ship by Israeli commandos that saw relations downgraded.

That deal was strongly backed by the United States, which was keen to see Israel make up with one of its very few key Muslim partners.

But Erdogan - who has assumed a leading role in defending the Palestinian cause - has never shied away from criticism of Israel even as ministers pressed energy cooperation between the two sides.

Erdogan this week has accused Israel of "genocide" and told Netanyahu he is leading an "apartheid state" while having the "blood of Palestinians" on his hands.

Netanyahu meanwhile told Erdogan that as a leading supporter of Palestinian Islamist group Hamas "there's no doubt he's an expert on terror and slaughter".

In a tweet titled "Reminder to Netanyahu", Erdogan then denied that Hamas is a terror group, saying it is a "resistance movement that defends the Palestinian homeland against an occupying power".

After talks with UK Prime Minister Theresa May on Tuesday, Erdogan warned that history "will not forgive" Israel or the US for moving the American embassy to Jerusalem in defiance of the Islamic world.