Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan talks following his cabinet meeting in Ankara, Turkey, Monday, May 17, 2021. AP
Turkey rejected as 'absolutely unacceptable' accusations by the US that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan made 'anti-Semitic' remarks in his criticism of Israeli strikes in Gaza, his top press aide said Wednesday.
The latest tensions could further sour the relationship between two NATO allies Turkey and the United States.
'The US statement about our President Erdogan's remarks on the Israeli violence against Palestinian civilians is absolutely unacceptable,' Erdogan's press aide Fahrettin Altun tweeted.
The US State Department on Tuesday sharply criticised Erdogan for what it called 'anti-Semitic' remarks, urging him and other Turkish leaders to refrain from incendiary comments, 'which could incite further violence'.
'The United States strongly condemns President Erdogan's recent anti-Semitic comments regarding the Jewish people and finds them reprehensible,' State Department spokesman Ned Price said in a statement.
Erdogan, whose political roots are in Islamism, has championed the Palestinian cause during his 18-year rule.
He has accused Israel of "terrorism" against the Palestinians.
Earlier this week he called them 'murderers, to the point that they kill children'.
Altun slammed the charge of anti-Semitism targeting the president as 'appalling'.
'It is a cowardly statement to divert the international attention away from Israel's crimes against humanity,' he commented.
The foreign ministry also rejected 'unfair accusations' Wednesday, urging the United States to try and stop 'Israel's attacks happening before the eyes of the entire world'.
Erdogan had spent the past few months trying to mend relations with Washington and reaching out to other Western allies after a year of sharp disputes.
But he lashed out at US President Joe Biden for his diplomatic support for Israel and his reported approval of a new arms shipment to Tel Aviv.
Erdogan has been waging a diplomatic campaign to impose sanctions and other punishments on Israel for a military offensive that has claimed the lives of at least 219 Palestinians in Gaza since May 10.