Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
(photo credit: TUMAY BERKIN/REUTERS AND MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
A Twitter battle erupted between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and spokespeople from the Turkish government representing Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday night, after the prime minister called the president a "dictator" and a "joke."
But the battleground was laid days before.
Erdogan's spokesperson, Ibrahim Kalin, tweeted on Tuesday afternoon that he condemns Netanyahu's "blatant racism and discrimination," referring to Netanyahu's comments from March 12 that Israel is "a nation state not of all its citizens but only of the Jewish people."
"1.6 million Arabs/Muslims live in Israel," wrote Kalin. "Will the Western governments react or keep silent under pressure again?"
Netanyahu was initially responding to Rotem Sela's Instagram post, in which she criticized Culture Minister Miri Regev for claiming that if Blue and White Party Chair Benny Gantz is elected in the April 9 elections, he will "create a government with the Arabs."
"Dear God, there are also Arab citizens in this country," Sela responded.
Netanyahu responded by saying that Israel is the nation-state of the Jewish people.
"It is either a strong right-wing government led by me, or a weak left-wing government led by Yair Lapid and [Benny] Gantz, with the support of the Arab parties," Netanyahu wrote on his Facebook page.
After the Turkish attack, Netanyahu took to Twitter to defend his statements.
"Turkey's dictator Erdogan attacks Israel's democracy while Turkish journalists and judges fill his prisons," Netanyahu wrote on his Twitter page on Tuesday night. "What a joke!"
"In Israel, no one is a second-class citizen," he continued. "Israel is a democracy in which all Israelis, including our nearly 2 million Arab citizens, enjoy equal individual rights... But Israel is also the one and only Jewish state."
Erdogan's spokesperson clapped back, saying that "after making racist remarks towards Arabs and Muslims, [Netanyahu] attacks President Erdogan for exposing him."
"The apartheid state he leads occupies Palestinian lands, kills women & children & imprisons Palestinians in their own land," he continued. "Lies and pressure will not hide your crimes."
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