ISTANBUL – Turkey has called on Muslim nations to stand with Palestinians and to work to stop countries joining the United States in relocating their Israeli embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
The call came at the end of a week that has seen Turkey take a leading role internationally to condemn Israeli actions in Gaza after Israeli forces killed dozens of people in Gaza. A diplomatic spat ensued with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu trading barbs on Twitter and both countries expelling senior diplomats.
As part of its condemnation of events in Gaza earlier this week, the Turkish government organized a massive “Curse Oppression, Support Jerusalem” rally and an extraordinary summit of the 57-member Organization of Islamic Cooperation, or OIC, as a show of solidarity Friday.
Speaking to tens of thousands waving Palestinian and Turkish flags, Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah criticized the U.S., describing its decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and moving its embassy there Monday a “big mistake.”
Erdogan told the rally the responsibility to defend Jerusalem lay with them as crowds chanted “Chief, take us to Jerusalem.” He said the U.S. can no longer play the role of a mediator in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as it is “siding with creating problems rather than solving them.”
He also lambasted those elements of the Islamic world that failed in what he termed “the Jerusalem exam,” saying “all we Muslims do is condemn” and not unite. Erdogan argued Muslim countries were “severe, intolerant and unconscientious” to each other and “toothless and cowardly” to unspecified enemies.
Erdogan is expected to address leaders of Muslim nations later Friday at the OIC and demand action.
At the morning session of the OIC summit, Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said, “we must prevent other countries from following the U.S. example” and that “precautions” are taken within the grouping after some nations voted against, abstained or did not show up at a United Nations vote in December. Some 128 countries overwhelmingly supported the U.N. motion against Washington’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
Despite that, Cavusoglu said “the U.S. administration did not give up on ignoring the basic principles of international law or the will of the international community.”
High-level officials from more than 50 member states, including Iranian President Hasan Rouhani, are attending the summit.
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