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Turkey censures Netanyahu for ‘discrimination’ against Arab Israelis

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (Photo by AFP)

Turkey has denounced Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for his “blatant racism” against Arab Israelis after the rightist premier said the occupied territories only belong to the Jewish people and not all citizens.

Recently, Rotem Sela, a popular Israeli TV host and actress, took to Instagram to criticize anti-Arab comments by Culture Minister Miri Regev, an outspoken Netanyahu loyalist.

Netanyahu fired back by referring to a controversial law adopted last year that declares the occupied territories exclusively “the nation-state of the Jewish people.”

“Israel is not a state of all its citizens,” he wrote in an Instagram post. “According to the basic nationality law we passed, Israel is the nation state of the Jewish people – and only it.”

The Israeli prime minister also suggested on his online Likud TV webcast that Arab citizens had more affiliation with the Arab countries in the region than with Israel.

“The Arab citizens have 22 nation states around them and they do not need another,” he said.

The remarks sparked condemnations, with critics saying Netanyahu was demonizing the Arabs, who make up some 17.5 percent of Israel’s population, in a bid to boost right-wing turnout for the April legislative elections.

On Tuesday, Turkish presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin strongly condemned Netanyahu’s “blatant racism and discrimination.”

“1.6 million Arabs/Muslims live in Israel. Will the Western governments react or keep silent under pressure again?” Kalin asked on his official Twitter account.

Netanyahu, however, responded hours later, calling Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan a “dictator” who jails journalists and judges.

Turkey slams Israel’s ‘brazen attacks’ on al-Aqsa

Separately on Tuesday, Ankara censured Israel’s stepped-up raids on the sacred places of Islam after the regime forces closed all entrances to the al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem al-Quds amid clashes with Palestinian worshipers.

“Unfortunately, today, Israel’s aggression has increased with encouragement from the US. We talk about all these issues and will not give up our sacred and national causes,” Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said in the province of Antalya.

He also called on the international community to stand against Tel Aviv, adding, “It is time to put a stop to Israel’s recklessness. We can’t tolerate brazen attacks on our holy places and the world must react to this.”

Palestinians have long been wary of Israeli attempts to change the status quo of al-Aqsa Mosque, which is Islam’s third holiest site and where only Muslim prayers are allowed under the status quo reaffirmed in 1967 between Israel and Jordan.

Ties between Ankara and Tel Aviv soured in 2010 after an Israeli raid on a Gaza-bound Turkish aid flotilla killed 10 Turkish activists in high seas.

Six years later, they reached an agreement to normalize their ties.

Their relations, however, sank to a fresh low in May 2018 after they expelled their envoys amid growing tensions over the Israeli killing of dozens of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.

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