May 16, 2018 / 6:07 AM / 5 months ago

Turkey expels Israeli consul in spat over Gaza violence

ANKARA (Reuters) - Turkey has ordered the Israeli consul general in Istanbul to return to Israel “for some time”, a Turkish Foreign Ministry official said on Wednesday, in a diplomatic row that follows the killing of 60 Palestinian protesters by Israeli forces.

Turkey has been among the most vocal critics of the Israeli use of deadly force against protesters at the Gaza border and of the U.S. decision to open its new embassy in Jerusalem.

President Tayyip Erdogan described Monday’s bloodshed, the deadliest for Palestinians since the 2014 Gaza conflict, as genocide and called Israel a terrorist state. The government declared three days of mourning.

Turkey has expelled Israel’s ambassador and recalled its ambassadors from Tel Aviv and Washington. It has called for an emergency meeting of Islamic nations on Friday.

A Palestinian demonstrator carries a tire as others take cover from Israeli fire and tear gas during a protest against U.S. embassy move to Jerusalem and ahead of the 70th anniversary of Nakba, at the Israel-Gaza border in the southern Gaza Strip. REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa

On Wednesday, Israel protested what it called Turkey’s “unbecoming treatment” of its expelled ambassador, after the envoy was shown on Turkish media being patted down by airport security in Istanbul in public view.

In response to Ambassador Eitan Naveh’s treatment, Israel’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement that it summoned the Turkish embassy’s charge d’affaires.

The Turkish ambassador to Israel was recalled to Ankara for consultations on Monday.

Israel expelled the Turkish consul-general in Jerusalem, and Erdogan exchanged heated words on Twitter with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Israel’s Foreign Ministry said the Turkish Consul-General in Jerusalem had been summoned and told to return to Turkey “for consultations for a period of time.”

The dispute appears to mark the worst diplomatic crisis between the two regional powers since Israeli marines stormed an aid ship to enforce a naval blockade of Gaza in 2010, killing 10 Turkish activists and prompting a downgrade in diplomatic ties that lasted until 2016.

Reporting by Tulay Karadeniz and Dan Williams in Jerusalem; Writing by Daren Butler; Editing by Matthew Mpoke Bigg

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