Erdogan, Netanyahu trade accusations over controversial Israeli law

Erdogan said Israel had shown itself to be a “terror state” by attacking Palestinians with tanks and artillery. (REUTERS)
Updated 24 July 2018
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Erdogan, Netanyahu trade accusations over controversial Israeli law

  • Ankara ordered out Israel’s ambassador in May over the killing of protesters along the border with the Gaza Strip
  • 63 Palestinians were killed on May 14, making it the most bloody day in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict since a 2014 war

ANKARA, JERUSALEM: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday branded Israel the “most fascist, racist state” in the world after Israel’s Parliament passed a new law defining the country as the nation state of the Jewish people.

Reacting to Erdogan’s comments, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Turkey was becoming “a dark dictatorship.”
The legislation, adopted after a tumultuous Knesset session, makes Hebrew the national language and defines the establishment of Jewish communities as being in the national interest. Arabic, previously considered an official language, was granted only special status.
“This is a defining moment in the annals of Zionism and the history of the state of Israel,” Netanyahu had told the Knesset.
The issue is the latest source of tension between Israel and Turkey, one of the Jewish state’s few key Muslim partners.
The EU’s Foreign Affairs chief, Federica Mogherini, also expressed her concern last week, saying the law would complicate a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict.
“This measure has shown without leaving the slightest room for doubt that Israel is the world’s most Zionist, fascist and racist state,” Erdogan said in a speech to his ruling party.
Erdogan claimed there was “no difference between Hitler’s obsession with the Aryan race and Israel’s understanding that these ancient lands are meant only for Jews.”
“The spirit of Hitler, which led the world to a great catastrophe, has found its resurgence among some of Israel’s leaders,” he added.
Around 6 million Jews were killed in the Holocaust by the Nazis during World War II.
Erdogan said Israel had shown itself to be a “terror state” by attacking Palestinians with tanks and artillery, adding that the move would “drown the region and world in blood and suffering.”
Hitting back on the Turkish president, Netanyahu accused him of “massacring Syrians and Kurds” and imprisoning “tens of thousands of his citizens.”
Ankara ordered out Israel’s ambassador in May over the killing of protesters along the border with the Gaza Strip.
The protests, which were against the controversial opening of the US Embassy in Jerusalem on the same day, were the peak of months of border demonstrations.
At least 63 Palestinians were killed on May 14, making it the most bloody day in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict since a 2014 war.
The strains have threatened a 2016 deal on normalizing ties after the crisis sparked by the May 2010 deadly storming of a Turkish ship by Israeli commandos.
Erdogan regards himself as a champion of the Palestinians and has twice recently held summits of Muslim states to denounce the recognition by the US of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
Arab citizens account for 17.5 percent of Israel’s more than 8 million population. They have long complained of discrimination.


Divided Arab economic summit: We must help suffering refugees

Updated 21 January 2019
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Divided Arab economic summit: We must help suffering refugees

  • Lebanese foreign minister Gebran Bassil called for 'effective solutions' for the return of Syrian refugees to their country
  • Summit also called for dialogue over growing tensions between Israel and Palestine

BEIRUT: The fourth Arab Economic and Social Development Summit was held in Beirut on Sunday, in an effort to, among other things, find ways to alleviate the suffering of refugees in the Middle East.

The summit, though attended by representatives from 20 Arab nations, was soured by the absence of most Arab heads of state, and was divided over several issues, including the absence of Syrian delegates, and a boycott by Libya.

The summit did, though, call for dialogue with the international community over growing tensions between Israel and Palestine.

Delegates expressed their support for the Palestinian people, and cited the “collective responsibility” of all parties towards maintaining the city of Jerusalem’s “Islamic and Christian identity.”

In a statement, the summit declared: “We reiterate Palestinian refugees’ rights of return and compensation, according to the UN General Assembly’s resolution 194 of 1948.”

Delegates also discussed at great length the need for international cooperation to support the growing digital economy across the region. They emphasized “the importance of building the necessary capacity” to benefit from the digital economy, and praised the initiative launched by the Emir of Kuwait, Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, to create a sovereign investment fund to support the development of technology in the Gulf and the Middle East.

They urged all Arab nations to “support this initiative to strengthen the joint Arab economy,” and called on other Arab banks and funds to invest in it.

The summit also praised the role of small and medium businesses across the Arab world for their contribution to flourishing Arab economies, as well as the implementation of the Pan-Arab Renewable Energy Strategy 2030, to ensure power across the region becomes cleaner and more sustainable.

The summit was far from harmonious, though, with the Lebanese foreign minister, Gebran Bassil, addressing the hall to ask the international community “to assume its responsibilities by finding effective solutions for the return of Syrian refugees to their country.”

Bassil called on Arab nations and others to “shoulder the burden, honor their commitments and meet the refugees’ needs.”

There were also disputes over the attendance of the Emir of Qatar Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, as well as the boycott by Libyan delegates.

“I am saddened because of the absence of the Libyan delegation, and by the circumstances that led to this point,” Arab League president, Ahmed Aboul Gheit, said.

Lebanon’s president, Michel Aoun, echoed the words of his foreign minister, calling on the international community “to exert all efforts to provide the safe return of Syrian refugees to their country, and to present incentives so they can contribute to their country’s reconstruction.”

He proposed the establishment of an international Arab bank to help affected countries overcome the crisis, and invited established Arab funds to Beirut to discuss his proposals.

“I deplore the absence of other Arab presidents and kings, but each of them has his reason. Our union remains of great importance given that we will not be able to address the challenges facing our region and peoples, unless we agree on key issues,” Aoun said.

The next Arab Economic and Social Development Summit will be held in Mauritania in 2023.