Turkish leader slams Israel before hundreds of thousands of supporters; opponents accuse Erdogan of ‘populist’ rhetoric ahead of historic election.
Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan accused Israel on Sunday of deliberately killing Palestinian mothers and warned it would “drown in the blood it sheds”, pulling foreign policy to center stage as a presidential race enters its final week.
Addressing hundreds of thousands of supporters at his biggest rally so far ahead of the Aug. 10 election, Erdogan again likened Israel’s actions to those of Hitler, comments that have already led Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to accuse him of anti-Semitism and drawn rebuke from Washington.
“Just like Hitler, who sought to establish a race free of all faults, Israel is chasing after the same target,” Erdogan told the sea of cheering supporters at an Istanbul arena.
Pro-Palestinian sentiment runs high in mostly Sunni Muslim Turkey, and protesters have repeatedly taken to the streets in recent weeks to demonstrate against Israel’s offensive in Gaza.
Over 50 million Turks are expected to vote next Sunday, electing their president directly for the first time. Two polls last month put Erdogan on 55-56 percent, a 20-point lead over the main opposition candidate, Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu.
Ihsanoglu, a diplomat and academic who was at the helm of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation for nine years, has accused Erdogan of populism with his anti-Israeli rhetoric.
“I think the foreign policy issues are used in domestic politics to rally people, but it creates problems and pushes governments into corners,” Ihsanoglu, who has run a much lower-key campaign than Erdogan, told Reuters in an interview last week.
Full article: Erdogan: Israel will ‘drown in the blood it sheds’ (ynet news)