Skip to main content

Israel, Turkey trade blows after Erdogan compares Israel to Nazi Germany

Erdogan calls Israeli nation-state law 'fascist', Netanyahu replies that Turkey is turning into a 'dark dictatorship'
Erdogan said Israel had shown itself to be a 'terror state' by attacking Palestinians with tanks and artillery (AFP)

Turkey President Tayyip Erdogan and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu exchanged barbed words on Tuesday after Erdogan denounced the recent passage of an Israeli law stating that only Jews have the right to exercise national self-determination in Israel - comparing Israel today to the Nazi regime in 1930s Germany.

Last week, the Israeli Knesset passed the widely condemned "nation state" law, angering members of the country's Palestinian minority and prompting Turkey to accuse Israel of trying to form "an apartheid state".

Speaking to members of his ruling AK Party in parliament on Tuesday, Erdogan said the law showed Israel was "the most Zionist, fascist and racist country in the world", and called on the international community to mobilise against Israel.

"The Jewish nation-state law passed in the Israeli parliament shows this country's real intentions. It legitimises all unlawful actions and oppression," Erdogan said.

"There is no difference between Hitler's Aryan race obsession and Israel's mentality. Hitler's spirit has re-emerged among administrators in Israel," he added.

'Dark dictatorship'

Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded by saying that under Erdogan, Turkey was turning into a "dark dictatorship", accusing the Turkish president of "massacring Syrians and Kurds".

What is Israel's nation state law?

- Less than 500 words in length, the law says Israel is the "historical homeland" and the "national home" of the Jewish people

- It says that only Jews have the right to exercise national self-determination in Israel

- It says that Jerusalem is Israel's capital and Hebrew is its language

- It describes Jewish settlement as a "national value" to be promoted by the state

Read in full: Israel's Nation State of the Jewish People Law

Erdogan said Israel had shown itself to be a "terror state" by attacking Palestinians with tanks and artillery, adding that the move would "drown the region and world in blood and suffering".

The law, backed by Israel's right-wing government, passed through parliament after months of political argument.

Less than 500 words long, the nation-state law accords exclusive "national self-determination" rights – the right to decide Israel's national priorities, of both symbolic and practical importance – to Jewish people, wherever they may live, in Israel or abroad, and whether or not they even hold Israeli citizenship.

The law does not, notably, say that Palestinian and other non-Jewish citizens of Israel are entitled to equal treatment under the law.

The law also gives Hebrew superior status over Arabic, making the former the state's only official language and demoting the latter to merely a language with "special status".

"This is a defining moment in the annals of Zionism and the history of the state of Israel," Netanyahu told the Knesset during the Bill's passage.

Turkey and Israel, former allies, expelled each other's top diplomats in May after scores of Palestinians were killed by Israeli forces in protests in Gaza against the opening of the US embassy in Jerusalem.

Erdogan has called for a summit of Muslim leaders twice in the past six months after US President Donald Trump decided to recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital in December.

However, the two sides continue to trade with each other.