In the wake of increased violence along the Israeli border this week resulting in dozens of Palestinian deaths, the Turkish government reportedly called for an emergency meeting of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is a rotating chair of the international body and has spoken out forcefully against what he calls a “genocide” in Gaza perpetrated by Israeli forces.
According to Iranian news source Press TV, Turkey’s prime minister announced the upcoming summit last week during a parliamentary address in which he also called for renewed Islamic defiance of Israel.
“Islamic countries should without fail review their relations with Israel,” Binali Yildirim said. “The Islamic world should move as one, with one voice, against this massacre.”
Dismissing any perceived partisan ties, Yildirim said the OIC summit was requested “to show solidarity, brotherhood and togetherness.”
The meeting’s schedule included a pro-Palestine rally in Istanbul with the slogan “Stop the Oppression.”
That city also hosted a protest in which thousands of demonstrators railed against America’s decision to move its Israeli embassy to Jerusalem.
The move has reportedly sparked a new focus among Palestinians who believe the city, which they call Al Quds, is rightfully theirs.
Related rallies were common across the Islamic world in response to Monday’s embassy opening. Demonstrations were reported in Iran, Iraq, Egypt, Jordan, Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco.
Turkey has publicly blamed both the U.S. and Israel for what Yildirim called a “massacre” along the Gaza border, responding with an announcement that it would be recalling its ambassadors to both countries.
In announcing the move, Erdogan denounced Israel’s “terrorist” actions and implied the U.S. was complicit in the Palestinian deaths.
“What Israel has done is genocide,” he said. “I condemn this humanitarian drama, the genocide, from whichever side it comes, Israel or America.”
He made it clear that Turkey would “continue to stand with Palestinian people with determination.”
Israel has reacted by expelling its Turkish consul general in Jerusalem.
— Noa Landau נעה לנדאו (@noa_landau) May 15, 2018
In turn, Turkey ousted Yossi Levi Safri, the Israeli consul general who had been stationed in Istanbul, as reported by Haaretz.
Once much closer diplomatically, the relationship between Turkey and Israel has steadily diminished over the past 15 years as the Islamist influence of Erdogan’s party gained roots.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reacted harshly to the recent responses by Turkey, accusing Erdgoan of hypocrisy in holding another nation to account on humanitarian issues.
“A man who sends thousands of Turkish soldiers to hold the occupation of northern Cyprus and invades Syria will not preach to us when when we defend ourselves from an attempt by Hamas,” he said.
Netanyahu went on to say the Turkish president’s “hands are stained with the blood of countless Kurdish citizens in Turkey and Syria.”
He described Erdogan as “the last person to preach to us about combat ethics.”
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