German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said on Tuesday that it was "absurd" for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to accuse Israel of fascism.
Scholz said Israel is a democracy and "a country that is bound to human rights and international law and acts accordingly."
"Therefore, the accusations against Israel are absurd," he said at a press conference in Berlin.
Scholz is set to host Erdogan in Berlin for talks on Friday. They will be joined by German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier.
What did Erdogan say?
On November 10, Erdogan claimed Israel's legitimacy was "being questioned" due to what he called "its own fascism."
The Turkish president has been a vocal critic of Israel's war against militant group Hamas, which began after the group staged terrorist attacks in Israel on October 7, killing around 1,200 people.
While Germany — like the United States and European Union, along with other countries — categorizes Hamas as a terrorist group, Erdogan has described Hamas as a "liberation organization."
Turkey has also recalled its ambassador from Israel in protest against the Israeli strikes on Gaza.
Erdogan has accused Israel of committing war crimes with its heavy bombardment of Gaza. According to the Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry, the death toll due to the current conflict has passed 11,240.
Israel has rejected such accusations in the past and has said it is targeting Hamas, which it says operates bases in tunnels underneath civilian infrastructure like hospitals.
Scholz-Erdogan meeting to go ahead
On Tuesday, Scholz reiterated that he considered Hamas to be a terror organization and that he would continue to emphasize this point.
He said the meeting with Erdogan had not been called off.
Friedrich Merz, the leader of Germany's opposition center-right Christian Democratic Union, supported Scholz's decision not to cancel the talks.
Scholz added that Israel has not only the right but the "duty" to defend itself against the militant Islamist group.
zc/lo (dpa, AFP, Reuters)