Turkey’s Erdoğan likens Israeli violence against Palestinians to Nazis

Turkey's autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Friday accused Israel of “thuggery, violence and state terror,” comparing the country’s actions against Palestinians to Nazi persecution of Jews in the Holocaust, according to a report by Germany’s Deutsche Welle (DW).

Erdoğan opened an extraordinary summit of the 57-member Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in İstanbul, sharply condemning Israel for killing more than 100 Palestinians and wounding thousands more in Gaza recent weeks, including 62 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.

Erdoğan, 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.

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

Despite all warnings that 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, Erdoğan said.

The US has “Palestinian blood on its hands,” said Erdoğan, adding that 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.

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 Erdoğan has 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.

Earlier Friday, Erdoğan held a rally in İstanbul attended by tens of thousands of people waving Turkish and Palestinian flags. Erdoğan claimed in a speech delivered during this rally that the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) is a “project terror organisation” that killed and oppressed only Muslims and set the stage for occupation of Muslim lands by major powers that pretend to be battling ISIL.

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

Erdoğan’s strong criticism of Israeli policies towards the Palestinians plays well with his conservative and nationalist base. 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” for inciting the Gaza protests against Israel, a view backed by Washington.

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