Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said the “spirit of Hitler” lives on in Israel after the country passed a controversial “nation state” law which critics say is discriminatory towards the country’s Arab minority.
In a speech to his country’s parliament in Ankara he said the new law, designed to strengthen Israel’s identity as the “national home of the Jewish people”, showed that the soul of the Nazi leader had “risen again within some of Israel’s officials”.
“There’s no difference between Hitler’s obsession with a pure race and the understanding that these ancient lands are just for the Jews,” Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdogan declared, referencing the German regime which massacred six million Jews in the Second World War.
The proposed nation state bill was met with months of public protests from Israel’s 20 per cent Arab minority.
Its passing in the country’s parliament, the Knesset, last week was greeted with shouts of “apartheid” from Arab MPs, who waved black flags for an “evil” law.
Among other measures, the law, which holds constitution-like status, downgrades Arabic from being an official language and encourages settlement expansion in the occupied West Bank.
The move makes Israel “the world’s most Zionist, fascist, racist state”, Mr Erdogan said.
Calling on the international community to stand up to the oppression of Palestinians, he said the law would lead the Middle East and the rest of the world to “blood, fire and pain”.
Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu quickly dismissed Mr Erdogan’s inflammatory comments, calling his disapproval the “greatest compliment” the law could receive.
He also said that Turkey under Mr Erdogan’s premiership had morphed into a “dark dictatorship”, accusing the leader of “massacring Syrians and Kurds” as well as imprisoning tens of thousands of political prisoners.
Relations between Turkey and Israel, rocky in recent years, appeared to be thawing after they restored diplomatic ties in 2016.
However, they once again expelled each other’s ambassadors in the wake of protests on the Gaza-Israel border earlier this year in which Israeli forces killed dozens of Palestinian protesters.