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US condemns 'antisemitic' remarks by Erdogan

May 19, 2021

Washington called on the Turkish president to "refrain from incendiary remarks" which could "incite further violence." Ankara has strongly condemned Israeli airstrikes on Gaza.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks in front of a Turkish flag
Erdogan is a vocal defender of the Palestinians and has called Israel a 'terror state'Image: Aytac Unal/AA/picture alliance

Turkey on Wednesday rejected accusations by the United States that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan made "antisemitic" remarks in his criticism of Israeli strikes in Gaza.

"Accusing our president of antisemitism is an illogical and untrue approach. This is a lie said about our president," Omer Celik, a spokesman of Erdogan's party, said on Twitter. 

"Our president and our party are against antisemitism," Celik tweeted.

The US on Tuesday criticized  Erdogan for his comments over Israeli airstrikes.

"The United States strongly condemns President Erdogan's recent antisemitic comments regarding the Jewish people and finds them reprehensible," State Department spokesperson Ned Price said.

"We urge President Erdogan and other Turkish leaders to refrain from incendiary remarks, which could incite further violence," he added.

What did Erdogan say?

Erdogan has accused Israel of "terrorism" against the Palestinians, saying it was "in their nature."

"They are murderers, to the point that they kill children who are five or six years old. They only are satisfied by sucking their blood," he said.

Erdogan, a vocal defender of Palestinians, had also launched a scathing attack on US President Joe Biden, saying the US leader has "bloody hands" because he diplomatically supports Israel. 

What does this mean for US-Turkish relations?

The latest exchange of remarks could strain an already tense relationship between Washington and Ankara. 

In an interview with the New York Times in January 2020, Biden described Erdogan as an "autocrat." After taking office, he promised a harsh stance on his Turkish counterpart. 

Last month, he made a landmark decision to recognize the mass killings of Armenians by the Ottoman Empire in 1915-1917 as genocide

The two leaders are set to hold their first meeting alongside a NATO summit in Brussels next month.

mvb, dv/rt (AFP, Reuters)