Turkish PM says Israel's Netanyahu on par with Paris attackers -UPDATED

Davutoglu compared his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu to the militants who carried out attacks last week in Paris, saying both had committed crimes against humanity.

Turkish PM says Israel's Netanyahu on par with Paris attackers -UPDATED

World Bulletin/News Desk

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu on Thursday compared his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu to the militants who carried out attacks last week in Paris, saying both had committed crimes against humanity.

Davutoglu told a news conference that Israel's bombardment of Gaza and its storming in 2010 of a Turkish-led aid convoy to the Gaza Strip, in which 10 Turks were killed, were on a par with the Paris attacks, whose dead included shoppers at a Jewish supermarket.

The comments added to a war of words between the former allies: Israel's far-right foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, called President Tayyip Erdogan an "anti-Semitic bully" on Wednesday for criticising Netanyahu's attendance, with other world leaders, at a solidarity march in Paris on Sunday.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan's spokesman said on Thursday it was Islamophobic and unacceptable for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to link attacks in Paris to Islam.

"The Israeli government must halt its aggressive and racist policies instead of attacking others and sheltering behind anti-Semitism," pokesman Ibrahim Kalin said in a written statement on the presidential website.

Turkish leaders have condemned the attack on the satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo, in which gunmen killed 12 people, but have also warned that rising Islamophobia in Europe risks inflaming unrest.

Davutoglu also attended the Paris rally, which he said was a march against terrorism.

"Just as the massacre in Paris committed by terrorists is a crime against humanity, Netanyahu, as the head of the government that kills children playing on the beach with the bombardment of Gaza, destroys thousands of homes ... and that massacred our citizens on an aid ship in international waters, has committed crimes against humanity," Davutoglu said.

The assault on the aid convoy ruptured ties between Turkey and Israel, which previously enjoyed close diplomatic and military relations. Trade links remain close.

Davutoglu also criticised the secular Turkish newspaper Cumhuriyet for publishing excerpts of the latest edition of Charlie Hebdo, saying freedom of the press did not extend to insulting religious values.

"It cannot be called freedom of press if it is an insult against a prophet or religious leader that is believed in by around 1.5 billion people around the world," he said.

Police secured the premises of Cumhuriyet after threats were made against the newspaper.

Violence erupted at a paper, Yeni Akit, late on Wednesday after it published negative images of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, who toppled the Ottoman sultan and founded the republic in 1923. Ataturk is a national hero who is protected by Turkish law against insults.

Yeni Akit said about 200 nationalists threw eggs and rocks, then tried to storm its offices before police stopped them.

Last Mod: 15 Ocak 2015, 15:45
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