Erdoğan wants to fire up Muslim countries for Palestine
The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) is set to meet today in Istanbul for an emergency meeting called by Turkish President Tayyip Erdoğan, the term chair, to discuss the Israeli security forces’ killing of 61 protesters on May 14, who were protesting the U.S.’s embassy move from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem on the 70th anniversary of the establishment of the state of Israel.
This will be the second emergency meeting of the OIC called by Erdoğan in the last five months. The previous one was held on Dec. 13 in Istanbul after U.S. President Donald Trump on Dec. 5 recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, changing it from Tel Aviv. The joint communique of that meeting called on all countries to recognize East Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine under Israeli operation, denouncing Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netenyahu claiming the entire city as Israel’s capital.
That strong statement had an influence on a U.N. voting on Dec. 21, which objected to the U.S. decision with 128 votes against nine — the strongest defeat for the U.S. so far in the U.N.
But that did not stop Trump. He speeded up the process to move the U.S. embassy building to Jerusalem on May 14. And in the meantime, Trump had another move, which was strongly supported by Israel. He had withdrawn from the nuclear deal with Iran, which was reached during the term of his predecessor Barack Obama. The OIC could not raise a strong voice regarding that despite reactions from other signatories such as the U.K., France, Germany, Russia and China, mainly because of ideological and sectarian rifts between a Saudi Arabia-led group within the OIC and Iran. There was also no mention of declaring East Jerusalem as the capital of occupied Palestine by the countries other than Turkey, which was symbolic.
Erdoğan said on May 16 that he would measure the sincerity of the OIC countries by the level of representation of the member countries, as he wants to host heads of states in the Istanbul summit. Turkish officials expect a strong condemnation against Israel and the U.S., and beyond that they want measures to be taken by the OIC countries, like carrying the issue to U.N. fora. In a statement on May 17, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said Israel should be tried at the International Criminal Court for its actions against Palestinians.
Erdoğan has been slamming the U.N. for being exhausted and ineffective. In another strong statement, Erdoğan said he did not view Hamas as a terrorist organization — in the face of Israel’s claims — but viewed it as a resistance party. Some Gulf countries, on the other hand, view Hamas as being in cooperation with the Muslim Brotherhood, despite Hamas’ statements that they had cut their links with the Brotherhood. Hamas had also gotten in touch with the Egyptian intelligence to have an indirect contact with Israel. It was Egypt which brought Hamas and Al Fatah together for talks last year.
Erdoğan wants to fire up Islamic countries for a stronger action in support of Palestine. But that is not certain amid the current fragmented outlook hit by inner rivalries within the OIC.