Turkey says it’s helping Palestinians sue Israel in International Criminal Court

‘Israel should account for its actions’ at Gaza’s border fence, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu tells Turkish media

Turkey's Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu in Ankara, Turkey, February 16, 2018. (AP Photo/ Burhan Ozbilici)
Turkey's Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu in Ankara, Turkey, February 16, 2018. (AP Photo/ Burhan Ozbilici)

Turkey’s foreign minister said Thursday that Israel should be tried at the International Criminal Court for “massacring” Palestinians in recent clashes on the Gaza border, saying Ankara was actively helping the Palestinian Authority prepare a lawsuit against Israel.

“Israel should be taken to the International Criminal Court,” Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told Turkey’s state broadcaster TRT. “Since third parties cannot do it, Palestine needs to initiate this.”

The Palestinians joined the ICC as a member and signed the Rome statute in 2014, meaning that the Palestinian Authority can sue Israel in The Hague.

“We are analyzing what kind of legal steps can be taken,” he said, according to Turkey’s Hurriyet daily, adding that his country was giving legal aid to the Palestinians.

He said an international commission should investigate the Gaza violence and that “Israel should account for its actions.”

Cavusoglu also urged the United Nations General Assembly to pass a resolution on Jerusalem, after the United States inaugurated its new embassy in the capital this week.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, right, meets with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, left, in Istanbul, December 12, 2017. (Kayhan Ozer/Pool Photo via AP)

Turkey on Monday recalled its ambassadors from Israel and the United States in protest of Israel’s handling of the Gaza border riots, which came on the same day as the dedication of the US embassy in Jerusalem.

The Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza said 62 Palestinians were killed in Monday and Tuesday’s clashes. Israel said many of those killed were members of Hamas and the Islamic Jihad terror groups who were using the violent protests as cover to carry out attacks and damage the border fence. Hamas said Wednesday that 50 of the dead were its members, and earlier in the week the Islamic Jihad terror group claimed three.

Slamming the Israeli response, Erdogan said Monday that Israel is “a terror state” that has committed “a genocide.” Netanyahu hit back a day later, saying that as a prime supporter of Hamas, the Turkish leader was himself involved in “terrorism and slaughter.”

Following Netanyahu’s criticism, Turkey expelled Israeli Ambassador Eitan Na’eh, prompting Israel to respond in kind, ousting Turkey’s consul to Jerusalem. Turkey, in turn, ordered Israel’s consul in Istanbul to leave the country.

The feud continued on Wednesday, with the Foreign Ministry dressing down a senior Turkish envoy over the “humiliation” hours earlier of Na’eh as he boarded a flight to Tel Aviv.

Na’eh underwent a strict security screening at Istanbul’s airport that required him to take off his shoes. Turkish press was invited to film the spectacle, prompting Israel to again respond.

“The Turkish chargé d’affairs in Tel Aviv was summoned for a dressing down,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement, inviting Israeli journalists to film Umut Deniz’s entrance to the Foreign Ministry building in Jerusalem and stating the exact gate through which he would be entering.

Israeli Ambassador to Turkey Eitan Na’eh (L) holds his luggage at Istanbul Ataturk Airport on May 16, 2018, as he prepares to leave Turkey. (AFP Photo/DHA/Dogan News Agency)

Upon Deniz’s arrival at the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem, a security guard inspected his passport and diplomatic documents and subjected him to a security screening.

“The meeting was held by the director of the Southern Europe Department, Iris Ambor, who expressed to the chargé d’affairs our strong protest of the outrageous Turkish conduct, and added that Israel won’t tolerate such treatment of its delegates,” ministry spokesperson Emmanuel Nahshon said after the meeting.

Amid the diplomatic spat, Erdogan on Tuesday met with representatives of Neturei Karta, a fringe group that rejects Zionism and the State of Israel on religious grounds and whose members participated in a government-sponsored Holocaust denial conference in Tehran.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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