Netanyahu terms Erdogan comments 'outrageous, false'

PM tells 'Post' that Turkish PM's claims that Israel has killed thousands of Palestinians and uses Holocaust to perpetrate victimhood have nothing to do with facts.

Netanyahu at home 311 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Netanyahu at home 311
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
After weeks of rhetorical restraint in the face of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s constant Israel bashing, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu responded directly for the first time Monday, telling The Jerusalem Post that Erdogan’s claim that Israel had killed hundreds of thousands of Palestinians and was using the Holocaust to perpetuate its own victimhood were both “outrageous” and “false.”
“These are outrageous charges against Israel that have nothing to do with the facts,” Netanyahu told the Post in a Rosh Hashana interview that will be published in full on Wednesday.
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Erdogan, during an interview Sunday with CNN, said Israel has killed hundreds and thousands of Palestinians, while Palestinian rockets and bombs have killed only a few Israelis.
Netanyahu said that Israel has lost thousands of its citizens to Palestinian terrorism, and certainly has not taken the lives of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians.
“I regret that we hear these statements from the leader of Turkey,” he added. Regarding Erdogan’s comments about the Holocaust, Netanyahu said, “We don’t use the Holocaust, the Holocaust was the worst crime in history perpetuated against our people.”
“To hear this allegation at the beginning of the 21st century, just 60 years after Holocaust, is outrageous,” he added.
Netanyahu, whose comments came just hours after returning from New York, said that Turkey is a country that – according to OECD reports – has the worst record of press freedom in Europe, “with journalists jailed and press freedom curtailed.”
“In Israel we are used to telling the truth,” he said, “and the truth is that these allegations are completely false.”
Asked if – in light of Erdogan’s constant threats, including the threat of sending gunboats to accompany vessels to Gaza – Israelis should be worried about a military confrontation with Turkey, Netanyahu said, “I think that serious leaders in the Middle East know they have a common interest to maintain peace and stability. I think that no one would have doubts about the preference of keeping stability and peace in our area. I think that is something that is a shared interest by many – despite the ebb and flow of rhetoric.”
Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, meanwhile, lashed out at Erdogan at an Israel Beiteinu pre-Rosh Hashana toast on Monday, calling his administration “a radical Islamic extremist leadership that supports and develops terror.”
He mocked Erdogan’s accusations against Israel in media interviews during the United Nations General Assembly in New York.
“I saw Erdogan on CNN, and I think [his performance] was great for us,” Lieberman said.
“If I wanted to improve Israeli hasbara [public diplomacy], I would buy media outlets around the world and have Erdogan talk from morning until night.”
Gil Hoffman contributed to this report.