Turkey president Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday slammed Israel for a controversial law passed last week in parliament defining Israel as a nation-state of the Jewish people.
Addressing lawmakers in Ankara, Erdogan called Israel “the world’s most Zionist, fascist, racist state.”
He said “the soul of Hitler has risen again within some of Israel’s officials,” and that “there’s no difference between Hitler’s obsession with a pure race and the understanding that these ancient lands are just for the Jews.”
Erdogan warned the move would lead the region and the world to “blood, fire and pain” and promised to stand with Palestinians. He also called on the international community to stand against Israel.
Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was soon to react, lashing out at Erdogan for Turkey's campaigns inside Kurdish-held areas of northern Syria and its mass crackdown after the 2016 failed coup.
"Erdogan is massacring Syrians and Kurds and has imprisoned tens of thousands of his citizens," Netanyahu said in a statement.
Turkey under Erdogan is becoming a dark dictatorship, while Israel is meticulously maintaining equal rights for all its citizens, before and after the law."
According to the new law, Hebrew has been reinstated as the national language of Israel. The new legislation also defines the establishment of Jewish communities as being in the national interest.
Arabic, previously considered an official language, was downgraded to one with a "special status".
The law does not specify equality and Israel's democratic character, implying that the country's Jewish nature comes first.
Turkey and Israel in 2016 normalised ties after relations were downgraded for over half a decade following the crisis sparked by the May 2010 deadly storming of a Turkish ship by Israeli commandos.
The rapprochement received the warm applause of the United States, which has always been keen to see a good relationship between Israel, its main ally in the Middle East, and NATO partner Turkey.
But tensions have flared again in recent months, particularly after US President Donald Trump recognised Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and moved the United States embassy there from Tel Aviv.
Erdogan, who regards himself as a champion of the Palestinians, twice held summits of Muslim states to denounce the move.
Ankara then ordered out Israel's ambassador in May after Israeli soldiers killed dozens of unarmed protestors along the border with the Gaza Strip.
This is not the first time that Erdogan has triggered controversy. Earlier last year, he lashed out at Germany for blocking several rallies on its soil in the run-up to a referendum in Turkey, likening its stance to Nazi practices.
“Your practices are not different from the Nazi practices of the past,” he said of Germany at a women’s rally in Istanbul before the referendum on changes to the constitution that would bolster his powers as president.
“I thought it’s been a long time since Germany left [Nazi practices]. We are mistaken,” he added.