Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who has held his tongue for months in the face of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s serial remarks against Israel, jabbed back Thursday, labeling Erdogan’s characterization of Zionism as a crime against humanity “sinister and mendacious.”

Breaking with its practice of not responding to such tongue-lashings in the hope of not exacerbating its shaky ties with Ankara, the Prime Minister’s Office issued a statement saying Netanyahu strongly condemned Erdogan’s comments and “comparison of Zionism and fascism.”

Speaking Wednesday before a Vienna forum of the Alliance of Civilizations – a UN framework for West-Islam dialogue – the Turkish prime minister said, “It is necessary that we must consider – just like Zionism, or anti-Semitism, or fascism – Islamophobia as a crime against humanity.”