Turkey urges Islamic world to review Israel ties, calls summit

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. (AP)
Updated 15 May 2018
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Turkey urges Islamic world to review Israel ties, calls summit

ANKARA: Turkey on Tuesday urged Islamic countries to review their ties with Israel and said it would call an extraordinary summit of the world’s main pan-Islamic body after dozens of Palestinians were killed by Israeli fire on the Gaza border.
Ankara has reacted with fury to the killing Monday of 59 Palestinians in clashes and protests, on the same day as the United States formally moved its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv in defiance of international outrage.
“Islamic countries should without fail review their relations with Israel,” Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim told his ruling party in parliament.
“The Islamic world should move as one, with one voice, against this massacre,” he added.
Yildirim said that Turkey had called an “extraordinary summit” of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) on Friday. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan currently holds the rotating chairmanship of the body.
It was not immediately clear what format the meeting would take or who might attend.
A Turkish foreign ministry official, who asked not to be named, said there was to be “a summit in Istanbul on Friday.”
Yildirim said that after the summit at 3:00 p.m. (1200 GMT) a giant rally would be held at the vast Yenikapi meeting area in Istanbul under the slogan of “Stop the Oppression” to express solidarity with the Palestinians.
“This has nothing to do with party politics. This is to show solidarity, brotherhood and togetherness,” he said.
“The Islamic world should move as one, with one voice, against this massacre,” added Yildirim.
Erdogan regards himself as a champion of the Palestinian cause and last year hosted an OIC summit in Istanbul to denounce US President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
The summit declared East Jerusalem — which the international community regards as annexed by Israel — “as the capital of the State of Palestine” and urged the world to follow suit.
However Turkey also maintains full trade and diplomatic links with the Jewish state after a 2016 reconciliation deal ended a dispute over the deadly storming of a Turkish ship by Israeli commandos.
Ankara on Monday said it was recalling its ambassadors to the United States and Israel for consultations in the wake of the events.


UN hopes for meeting on Syria constitution by late December

US Deputy United Nations Ambassador Jonathan Cohen, left, address the UN Security Council after a report from UN chief mediator for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, shown center in a live video broadcast, on Monday, Nov. 19, 2018 at UN headquarters. (AP)
Updated 21 November 2018
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UN hopes for meeting on Syria constitution by late December

  • Staffan de Mistura said the UN welcomes “constructive and moderate suggestions” to change the list of the disputed 50 members

NEW YORK: The UN is still aiming to send invitations to 150 Syrians by mid-December to participate in a committee that would draft a new constitution for Syria, which is key to holding elections and ending the country’s civil war, a UN envoy said on Monday.
Staffan de Mistura, the UN special envoy for Syria, told the Security Council that the UN also aims to hold the committee’s first meeting before Dec. 31.
But de Mistura said the Syrian regime is objecting to 50 members of the committee representing civil society, experts, independents, tribal leaders and women that he was authorized to put together at a Russian-hosted Syrian peace conference in Sochi on Jan. 30.
Under the Sochi agreement, the committee is to comprise 150 members. There is already agreement on the 50-member delegation from the regime and the 50-member delegation from the opposition.
But de Mistura warned that if there is no agreement on the remaining members, the UN may have to conclude that it is not possible to form a “credible and inclusive” constitutional committee at this stage.
He said the UN welcomes “constructive and moderate suggestions” to change the list of the disputed 50 members. But de Mistura said they must “maintain the same spirit of credibility, balance and international legitimacy,” and he stressed that the list cannot be filled with political leaders who are already represented.
The UN envoy said that at his last briefing to the Security Council in December “it will be my duty to explain where we are on the constitutional committee, and leave a clean and clear ground to my successor regarding it.”
De Mistura was supposed to step down at the end of December but UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said Monday he will be staying on “for a bit longer” to make sure there is no gap “at an extremely critical time in the Syria talks.”