(JTA) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, following a meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris, fired back at criticism from Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
“Erdogan should not preach to us; he bombs Kurdish villages in Turkey, imprisons journalists, helps Iran evade international sanctions and helps terrorists attack innocents in Gaza and other places,” Netanyahu said during a joint news conference with the French president. “This is not the man who is going to lecture us.”
Netanyahu was responding to a speech Erdogan delivered Sunday in the city of Sivas.
“Palestine is an innocent victim… As for Israel, it is a terrorist state, yes, terrorist! We will not abandon Jerusalem to the mercy of a state that kills children,” Erdogan had said.
Macron urged Netanyahu during a joint press conference to “show courage” and make “gestures encouraging peace” toward the Palestinians. He suggested Israel freeze construction in the West Bank and eastern Jerusalem.
Netanyahu said that “the most important thing about peace is to recognize that the other side has the right to exist. I think that is what is holding up the peace between Israel and the Palestinians.” Netanyahu repeated an invitation to Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority, to peace talks.
Netanyahu linked possible peace talks to the Trump administration’s decision last week to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
“This is why I think President Trump’s announcement was so historic and so important for peace. On the quest for peace, there is a serious effort underway now by the United States. And all I can say, as I said related to President Macron, I think, if you’ll pardon the expression, we should give peace a chance, by bringing things to their historical truth, by opening up the possibility of renewed negotiations, with renewed initiatives,” Netanyahu said.
He said that France also should recognize Jerusalem as its capital, just as Israel recognizes Paris as France’s.
“Paris is the capital of France. Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. It’s been the capital of Israel for 3,000 years. It’s been the capital of the Jewish state for 70 years. We respect your history and your choices, and we know that as friends, you respect ours. I think this is also essential for peace. I think what peace requires is to be built on the foundation of truth, on the facts of the past and on the present. This is the only way that you can build pluralistic and successful future.,” he said.
He added that Israel and France, as well as the leaders of other countries should continue to fight against Iran becoming a nuclear power.
“Now, peace requires not only that you recognize reality, but that we also fight aggression. President Macron and I agree that we must stop the main source of aggression in the Middle East which is Iran. Iran is all over the place. It’s in Iraq, it’s in Syria, it’s already in Lebanon, where the president is validly trying to change the situation, taking a real initiative which we appreciate and support. It’s in Gaza, it’s in Yemen. We have to do what we can to stop Iran,” he said.