Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan aggressively censured Israel during his Tuesday address to the United Nations General Assembly, accusing the Jewish state of extending its “dirty hand” over Jerusalem and prompting a walkout from Israel’s UN envoy.
“The order of occupation and oppression in Palestine, which is the bleeding wound of humanity, continues to hurt consciences,” Erdogan said in his prerecorded video address.
“The dirty hand that reaches the privacy of Jerusalem, where the sacred places of the three great religions coexist, is constantly increasing its audacity,” the autocratic leader said.
As he made the remarks, Israel’s Ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan rose out of his seat and slowly left of the General Assembly hall. Footage of the walkout was subsequently distributed by Israel’s mission, along with a statement from Erdan in which the envoy said, “Erdogan continues to spout anti-Semitic and false statements against Israel. It is important that the world recognizes the double moral standard he has lived by for many years.”
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Turkey, once a strong Muslim ally of Israel, has become a geopolitical foe under Erdogan.
But although Israeli-Turkish relations are at a nadir, Ankara continues to maintain open ties with the Jewish state, including on tourism and trade.
Erdogan in his speech lauded the Palestinian people for “standing up against Israel’s policies of oppression, violence, and intimidation for more than half a century.”
The Turkish leader dismissed the Trump peace plan as a “document of surrender” and vowed not to support any peace proposal that Ramallah does not back as well.
“Participation of some countries of the region in this game does not mean anything beyond serving Israel’s efforts to erode basic international parameters,” he said in a veiled reference to the Gulf states of the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, which have recently normalized their relations with Israel.
“Countries that have declared their intention to open embassies in Jerusalem, in violation of the United Nations resolutions and international law, only serve to make the conflict more complicated with their action,” Erdogan charged.
“The Palestinian conflict can only be resolved with the establishment of an independent, sovereign, and contiguous state of Palestine based on the 1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital,” he said.
Erdogan went on to call for “sincere” dialogue to settle the growing row with Greece over Ankara’s energy search in the eastern Mediterranean, rejecting any “harassment” by the West over the issue.
“Our priority is to settle disputes with sincere dialogue, based on international law and on an equitable basis,” he said. “However, I would like to clearly state that we will never tolerate any imposition, harassment, or attack in the opposite direction.”
NATO allies Turkey and Greece are embroiled in a maritime gas drilling dispute that has pitted Ankara against other EU member states.
Tensions spiked after Ankara deployed last month a research vessel in the contested waters between the islands of Cyprus and Crete, but it was pulled back to shore recently in order to give a chance to diplomacy.
Erdogan said Turkey “cannot turn a blind eye” to the violation of its rights and repeated Ankara’s call for “establishing dialogue and cooperation between coastal countries of the eastern Mediterranean.”
“For this purpose, we would like to propose the convening of a regional conference, including Turkish Cypriots, in which the rights and interests of all the countries of the region are considered,” he said.