Turkey’s Tayyip Erdogan on Friday called on the Muslim world to back Palestinians against what he said was Israel’s cruelty in Gaza, and castigated both the United States and the United Nations over the deaths of dozens of protesters.
Erdogan first addressed thousands in Istanbul at a rally he personally called and barely an hour later chaired an emergency summit of Islamic heads of state he had summoned at a few days notice.
The Turkish president has been a vocal critic of Washington’s decision to move its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem — and of the violence that followed the embassy’s opening. Turkey declared three days of mourning after Israeli security forces killed dozens of Palestinian protesters on Monday.
“The time has come to stand against Israel’s tyranny,” Erdogan told a sea of protesters waving Turkish and Palestinian flags.
“If the Muslim world stands against cruelty in Gaza together, Israel’s recklessness will not last,” he said.
“The United Nations, which has failed to take effective steps against the United States, has taken another blow to its already worn-out legitimacy.”
“I invite all Muslims and all humanity to take action… against those who drag our region and the world into catastrophe with their religious fanaticism,” he added.
Speaking at the opening of the summit, Erdogan compared Israel’s actions against the Palestinians in Gaza to the Nazi persecution of the Jews in the Holocaust during World War II.
“There is no difference between the atrocity faced by the Jewish people in Europe 75 years ago and the brutality that our Gaza brothers are subjected to,” he said, accusing Israel of using methods “similar to the Nazis”.
Around six million Jews were killed by the Nazis during World War II in the Holocaust.
The violence in Gaza has sparked a diplomatic row between Turkey and Israel, with both countries expelling each other’s senior diplomats this week.
‘Test for Islamic world’
Erdogan is hoping the extraordinary meeting of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) will be able to bridge divisions in the Islamic world to take a strong stance against Israel.
He told the rally that Muslims had too often given a “shy and cowardly” image to their foes and failed to sort out internal disagreements.
Describing the issue of Jerusalem as a “test”, he said: “If we need to speak clearly, the Islamic world failed in the Jerusalem test.”
This is the second emergency OIC meeting Erdogan has hosted in the space of half a year after the December 2017 summit, also in Istanbul, that denounced US President Donald Trump’s decision to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
A draft summit communique called for “international protection for the Palestinian people” and condemns Israel’s “criminal” actions against “unarmed civilians”.
The text also accused the US administration of “encouraging the crimes of Israel”.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani is a key participant and overcoming the enmity between Tehran and Riyadh will be crucial for the Turkish hosts.
Jordanian King Abdullah II is present although the Palestinians are represented by prime minister Rami Hamdallah and not president Mahmud Abbas who this week had surgery on his ear.
Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry and Saudi counterpart Adel al-Jubeir have come but not their heads of state.
Pakistan has called for an independent and transparent investigation of violence in Gaza. While condemning the human rights violations by the occupying Israeli force. Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi reiterated support of the people and Government of Pakistan for the establishment of a viable, independent and contiguous state of Palestine.