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Israeli, Turkish leaders trade barbs in deepening spat

December 23, 2018
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu chairs the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem Sunday, Dec. 23, 2018. (Ronen Zvulun/Pool via AP)

JERUSALEM (AP) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is deepening a dispute with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, calling him an “anti-Semitic dictator.”

Netanyahu on Sunday said the Turkish leader is “obsessed with Israel” and his military “slaughters women and children in Kurdish villages.” He spoke at a meeting with Christian soldiers.

Speaking in Istanbul Sunday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called Netanyahu an oppressor who commits “state terror.” It wasn’t immediately clear what sparked the latest spat between the leaders.

Israel and Turkey were once close allies. But relations have steadily cooled since Erdogan, whose party has roots in Turkey’s Islamist movement, became prime minister in 2003.

The exchange came just days after the U.S. announced its withdrawal from Syria, where both Israel and Turkey are involved in the seven-year civil war.

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