Turkey slams Israeli PM Netanyahu’s ‘blatant racism’

Critics say Benjamin Netanyahu, above, demonized Arabs in his campaign for the upcoming elections. (AFP/File)
Updated 12 March 2019
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Turkey slams Israeli PM Netanyahu’s ‘blatant racism’

  • Israel passed a controversial law on citizenship last year
  • Israeli-Arabs constitute around 17.5 percent of the population in Israel
ISTANBUL: Turkey on Tuesday denounced Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s “blatant racism” after he called Israel the nation-state of “the Jewish people” only, not all its citizens.
Turkey and Israel often have tense relations with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who regards himself as a champion of the Palestinian cause, a vocal critic of Israeli policies.
“I strongly condemn this blatant racism and discrimination,” presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin wrote on his official Twitter account both in Turkish and English.
“1.6 million Arabs/Muslims live in Israel. Will the Western governments react or keep silent under pressure again?” he asked.
In campaign mode before April 9 elections, Netanyahu said all citizens including Arabs had equal rights but referred to a deeply controversial law passed last year declaring Israel the nation-state of the Jewish people.
“Israel is not a state of all its citizens,” Netanyahu wrote in response to comments from an Israeli actress.
“According to the basic nationality law we passed, Israel is the nation-state of the Jewish people — and only it,” he said, in comments that made waves in Israel.
Israel and Turkey in 2016 ended a rift triggered by the Israeli storming of a Gaza-bound ship that left 10 Turkish activists dead and led to a downgrading of diplomatic ties.
Netanyahu has been accused by critics of demonizing Israeli Arabs, who make up some 17.5 percent of the population, in a bid to boost right-wing turnout for April polls.
He is facing a tough challenge from a centrist political alliance led by former military chief of staff Benny Gantz and ex-finance minister Yair Lapid.


US bolsters Middle East force with 1,500 troops as Pentagon blames Iran for tanker attacks

Updated 24 May 2019
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US bolsters Middle East force with 1,500 troops as Pentagon blames Iran for tanker attacks

  • Donald Trump says the additional troops would serve a 'mostly protective' role
  • The US began reinforcing its presence in the Arabian Gulf region earlier this month

WASHINGTON: The US will strengthen its force in the Middle East with 1,500 extra troops, Donald Trump said Friday as the Pentagon blamed Iran for an attack on oil tankers off the coast of the UAE.

"We want to have protection in the Middle East," Trump said as he left the White House for a trip to Japan. "We're going to be sending a relatively small number of troops, mostly protective.
"Some very talented people are going to the Middle East right now. And we'll see what happens."

Shortly after his comments, the Pentagon accused Iran's Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) of being directly responsible for attacks on tankers off the UAE earlier this month, describing it as part of a "campaign" by Tehran driving new US deployments.
"The attack against the shipping in Fujairah we attribute it to the IRGC," said Rear Admiral Michael Gilday, the director of the Joint Staff, adding the Pentagon attributed limpet mines used in the attack to the IRGC. He declined to describe "the means of delivery" of the mines.

The 1,500 extra troops will be made up of a deployment of 900 more forces, including engineers, and the extension of a tour by some 600 personnel manning Patriot missiles.

Officials said earlier that members of Congress were notified following a White House meeting Thursday to discuss Pentagon proposals to bolster the force in the region.
Earlier this week, officials said that Pentagon planners had outlined plans that could have sent up to 10,000 military reinforcements to the region. Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan later said planners had not settled on a figure.
The US began reinforcing its presence in the Arabian Gulf region this month in response to what it said was a threat from Iran.

*With AP and Reuters