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Turkey's Erdogan likens Israel to Nazis

May 19, 2018

Turkey called a special session of Organization of Islamic Cooperation to condemn Israel and the United States. The 57-member body said the US had backed Israel's "savage crimes."

Protesters in Gaza running
Image: Reuters/I. Abu Mustafa

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Friday accused Israel of "thuggery, violence and state terror," comparing the country's actions against Palestinians to Nazi persecution of the Jews in the Holocaust.

Erdogan opened an extraordinary summit of the 57-member Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in Istanbul, sharply condemning Israel for killing more than 100 Palestinians and wounding thousands more in Gaza recent weeks, including some 60 killed in protests on Monday.

"The children of those who were subjected to all sorts of torture in concentration camps during World War II are now attacking Palestinians with methods that would put Nazis to shame," he told Muslim leaders after he called the session.

Erdogan, who is rotating president of the OIC, lashed out at the United States, accusing Washington of rewarding Israel's "occupation and apartheid policies" by moving the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Read more:  Gaza residents 'caged in a toxic slum: UN human rights chief Zeid

'New operation against Muslim world'

Palestinians consider East Jerusalem the capital of a future state and the al-Aqsa Mosque compound is considered the third holiest site in Islam. The mosque complex is located on the Temple Mount, a holy site to Muslims, Jews and Christians.

Despite all warnings moving the embassy would harm "Muslims, Christians and Jews," the US government ignored the UN and "opted to side with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and some radical evangelicals Christians" in the United States, Erdogan said.

The United States has "Palestinian blood on its hands," said Erdogan, adding the US Embassy move to "Jerusalem is a harbinger of a new operation against the Muslim world."

A final OIC communique labeled Israeli forces' use of violence against Palestinians "savage crimes" that were carried out "with the backing of the US administration, including through shielding the Israeli occupation in the UN Security Council from accountability."

The United States regularly uses its veto in the UN Security Council to block resolutions against Israel. 

Read more: US Embassy in Jerusalem opens, further fracturing a 'fragile city'

The OIC also called for "the international protection of the Palestinian population including through dispatching of an international protection force."

Recognizing the need for a Palestinian state based on 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital, the OIC invited "all countries to officially recognize the State of Palestine."

This was the second emergency OIC meeting Erdogan called in a half year. In December 2017, the Turkish president called a summit to denounced US President Donald Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Read more: 70 years of Nakba: The ongoing struggle of Palestinian refugees

Useful election tool

Earlier Friday, Erdogan held a rally in Istanbul attended by tens of thousands of people waving Turkish and Palestinian flags.

Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah attended the rally, telling the crown the US was "trying to provoke a religious conflict in the region" by moving its embassy to Jerusalem.

The Turkish president has been one of the strongest critics of Israeli policies towards Palestinians, an issue that plays well with his conservative and nationalist base. Turkey holds elections on June 24.

Earlier this week Turkey recalled its ambassadors from Israel and the United States. Israel responded by temporarily expelling the Turkish ambassador.

Turkey is one of the chief regional backers of Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip. Israel and the US consider Hamas a terrorist organization.  Israel has blamed Hamas "terrorists” of inciting the Gaza protests against Israel, a view backed by Washington.

cw/sms (AFP, dpa, Reuters)

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