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Erdogan calls Israel ‘terrorist state’

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan delivers a speech on Sunday at his ruling political party's conference in Sivas, central Turkey. (AP)
ISTANBUL: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Sunday described Israel as a “terrorist state” and vowed to use “all means to fight” against the US recognition of Jerusalem as the country’s capital.
“Palestine is an innocent victim... As for Israel, it is a terrorist state, yes, terrorist!” Erdogan said in a speech in the central city of Sivas.
“We will not abandon Jerusalem to the mercy of a state that kills children.”
His speech came days after US President Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, angering Palestinians and sparking protests in Muslim and Arab countries.
Four Palestinians were killed and dozens injured in violence following the US announcement.
Rockets were fired from Gaza and Israeli warplanes carried out raids on the territory.
Erdogan earlier described the status of Jerusalem, whose eastern sector Palestinians see as the capital of their future state, as a “red line” for Muslims.
He called Trump’s declaration “null and void.”
The Turkish president has used his position as the current chairman of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to call a summit of the pan-Islamic group on Wednesday.
“We will show that applying the measure will not be as easy as that,” he added on Sunday.
During his speech, Erdogan held a picture of what he said was a 14-year-old Palestinian boy from Hebron, in the occupied West Bank, being dragged away by Israeli soldiers.
Trump’s administration insisted on Sunday that its recognition of Jerusalem as the Israeli capital will help the cause of peace, with UN Ambassador Nikki Haley saying it will “move the ball forward.”
The new US stance, fiercely criticized by Palestinians, Arab leaders and others as gravely damaging any prospects for Middle East peace, has given rise to swelling protests across the region in recent days.
But Haley suggested that the fears are overblown.
She told CNN that Trump was the first US president to have the “courage” to make a move that she said many Americans and others around the world supported.
“When it comes to those people (who are) upset, we knew that was going to happen. But courage causes that... I strongly believe this is going to move the ball forward for the peace process.”
When a CNN interviewer asked repeatedly how the change would help the cause of peace, Haley suggested that it would simplify negotiations.
“Now they get to come together to decide what the borders look like, they get to decide the boundaries and they get to talk about how they want to see Jerusalem, going forward.
“All we did was say, ‘this is not something we’re going to allow to happen in the middle of your negotiations.’“
Critics of the US shift say it will have the opposite effect: It has long been US policy that the critically sensitive status of Jerusalem — claimed as capital by both Israelis and Palestinians — must be saved for the end of peace negotiations, not taken off the table at the start.

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