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ANKARA, Turkey – The war of words between Turkey and Israel continued Friday when Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan rebuked the son of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for suggesting that Istanbul — formerly Constantinople — was under Turkish occupation.
The Turkish and Israeli leaders have been trading barbs this week, with Netanyahu calling Erdogan a "dictator" and criticizing the imprisonment of scores of journalists in Turkey. Erdogan brandished the Israeli leader a "thief" and a "tyrant" in reference to corruption allegations and Israeli policies toward Palestinians.
Netanyahu's son, Yair Netanyahu, jumped into the fray, tweeting this week that Istanbul "is actually a city called Constantinople! The capital of the Byzantine empire and center of orthodox Christianity for more than a thousand years before Turkish occupation!"
Erdogan hit back at Yair Netanyahu calling him "immoral" at an election rally.
"You occupied the whole of Palestine!" he said. "If the world is looking for a country that oppresses, it's Israel. If they are searching for a terror state that too is Israel."
Israel and Turkey were once close allies, but diplomatic relations between the two have soured in the past decade. Under Erdogan, Turkey has become a vocal critic of Israeli policies dealing with Palestinians, sparking frequent verbal feuds with Netanyahu.
Interviewed on Turkey's Haberturk television on Thursday, Erdogan said Benjamin Netanyahu was "walking around with this stain" of corruption. Erdogan also accused Israel of jailing 10,000 Palestinian women and children and of disrespecting holy sites in Jerusalem.
The latest exchange of words started Tuesday when Erdogan's spokesman called Netanyahu a racist for saying Israel was the nation-state only of the Jewish people.