In escalation of diplomatic tit-for-tat, Turkey expels Israel's Istanbul consul

Queen Elizabeth and Recep Tayyip Erdoğan

Queen Elizabeth and Recep Tayyip Erdoğan

Ambassador Eitan Naeh was summoned to the foreign ministry and told to "return to his country for a period of time", said a Turkish foreign ministry official, AFP reported.

President Erdogan said the Israeli ambassador to Ankara had been expelled on Tuesday afternoon and its own ambassador to Tel Aviv has been recalled for instructions from the government. Turkey, strongly critical of the US decision to relocate its embassy to Jerusalem, had already recalled for consultations its ambassadors to Tel Aviv and Washington.

Earlier, Yıldırım invited his counterparts from five countries to join an emergency summit of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) on the killings of Palestinians at the Gaza border.

Meanwhile, Turkey summoned Israels ambassador to Ankara to its foreign ministry, sources in the ministry said on Tuesday, a day after Israeli forces killed more than 60 Palestinians during protests on the Gaza border.

Erdogan, who regards himself as a champion of the Palestinian cause, this week has accused Israel of "genocide" and told Netanyahu he is leading an "apartheid state" while having the "blood of Palestinians" on his hands.

Israel expelled the Turkish consul-general in Jerusalem, and Erdogan exchanged heated words on Twitter with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

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Turkey on Tuesday night ordered Israel's consul general in Istanbul, Yossi Levi Safri, to leave the country immediately. "There is no doubt he well understands terrorism and slaughter", Netanyahu tweeted. "No, you are not right", Erdogan said.

Citing widespread opposition in the United Nations to the embassy move, Mr Erdogan said: "The US claims to be powerful".

While Turkey under Erdogan has never completely severed ties with Israel, the Turkish strongman has also never shied away from the strongest criticism.

The tragic scenes overshadowed Mrs May's meeting at 10 Downing Street with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Erdogan regards himself as a champion of the Palestinian cause and past year held a summit of Islamic countries to denounce US President Donald Trump's decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

"We have made our view clear on the embassy", he told MPs. Erdogan, who is campaigning for presidential and parliamentary elections next month, said a rally will be held on Friday to protest the killings.

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