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Israel and Turkey ramp up tension with tit-for-tat diplomat dismissals

Israel and Turkey have continued tit-for-tat expulsions of diplomats over violence in Gaza that has killed at least 60 Palestinians. It comes ahead of a meeting of Arab foreign ministers to discuss "Israeli aggression."

Turkey has ordered the Israeli consul general in Istanbul, Yosef Lefi-Sfari, to temporarily leave the country, in the latest development of an ongoing spat between the two countries, Turkish state media reported Wednesday. The move comes after Israel's Foreign Ministry summoned a top Turkish diplomat to be reprimanded for his country's "harsh" treatment of Israel's ambassador in Ankara, Eitan Naeh, who Turkey temporarily expelled on Tuesday.

Also on Wednesday, the Israeli Foreign Ministry said Umut Deniz, the Turkish charge d'affaires in Tel Aviv, was being summoned because of the "inappropriate treatment" of Naeh. The spat between the two countries has seen Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan exchange heated words on Twitter. Erdogan tweeted that Netanyahu "has the blood of Palestinians on his hands."

Netanyahu hit back on Twitter, saying "Erdogan is among Hamas's biggest supporters and there is no doubt that he well understands terrorism and slaughter. I suggest that he not preach morality to us." Arab foreign ministers will hold an emergency meeting at the Arab League on Thursday to "confront the Israeli aggression on the Palestinian people," state media reported Tuesday. At least 60 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces in Gaza since protests amplified on Monday following the opening of the US embassy in Jerusalem and the Nakba commemoration of Israel's founding.

Egypt's state news agency MENA quoted an Arab diplomatic source as saying the meeting was also "to confront the illegal decision taken by the United States to move its embassy to occupied Jerusalem." The source also said the Arab League was due to hold a preparatory meeting on Wednesday at the level of permanent representatives. 

Source: Deutsche Welle 


Päivitetty/Updated: 16.05.2018

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