LONDON — Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Tuesday described Israel as the most “fascist” country in the world and likened some of its leaders to Adolf Hitler — remarks that drew a swift rebuke from Jerusalem.
The strongman leader condemned a new Israeli "nation-state" law, under which only Jews have the right of self-determination, saying it legitimizes oppression against Palestinians.
"This regulation is evidence that, without doubt, Israel is the most Zionist, fascist and racist state in the world," Erdoğan told a meeting of his political party, according to state news agency Anadolu.
"I call on the Islamic world, Christian world, all democratic and liberal states, non-governmental organizations, media members to move against Israel," he said.
He also compared Israel’s stance to Nazi Germany's “obsession with the Aryan race,” Anadolu reported, adding: “Hitler's spirit has re-emerged in some Israeli leaders.”
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Turkey and Israel are former allies. They expelled each other's top diplomats in May during a dispute over clashes when dozens of Palestinians were killed by Israeli forces at the Gaza barrier. However, the two sides continue to trade with each other.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded to Erdoğan's comment within minutes on Tuesday.
"Erdoğan is slaughtering Syrians and Kurds and imprisoning tens of thousands of his fellow citizens, and the fact that the 'great democrat' Erdoğan attacks [our] law is the greatest compliment," he said.
Turkey"is becoming a dark dictatorship" under Erdoğan, Netanyahu added.
Erdoğan, who was recently re-elected, has called for a summit of Muslim leaders in the region after President Donald Trump decided to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital.
Federica Mogherini, the European Union's foreign affairs chief, has expressed her concern at the Israeli self-determination law, saying it would complicate a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict.
The law was approved after months of political argument. "This is a defining moment in the annals of Zionism and the history of the state of Israel," Netanyahu said after it passed.
Erdoğan also pledged Tuesday to continue security operations along all of its borders, despite last week ending the emergency rule put in place following the July 2016 coup attempt.
Since the failed , more than 150,000 civil servants have been purged and 77,000 people have been charged in a crackdown that has been criticized by rights groups.
Turkey, which is a NATO member, has also launched cross-border operations into Syria, citing concerns about the Kurdish YPG militia.
Alastair Jamieson reported from London, and Paul Goldman from Tel Aviv.