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Erdogan to address Gaza protest

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A large demonstration has been planned today in Taksim square in Istanbul, expected to be attended by more than 100,000 people. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who called Israel “a terror and an apartheid state” that was committing “genocide” in Gaza, is expected to address the crowd.

Istanbul will also host an emergency meeting of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).  Erdogan told Saudi Arabia King Salman: “The Islamic summit will send a clear message to the world that we will not agree to the American Embassy’s relocation to Jerusalem.”

Yesterday Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu called for Israel to be held accountable for its actions on the Gaza border at the International Criminal Court (ICC). According to the ICC rules, states cannot refer events to the court outside their jurisdiction. “Since third parties cannot do it, Palestine needs to initiate this … we are analysing what kind of legal steps can be taken,” Cavusoglu said.

He also encouraged the UN General Assembly to pass a resolution condemning the opening of US new embassy in the capital earlier this week.

Earlier this week Israel’s Ambassador to Turkey, Eitan Na’eh, was asked to leave the country on Tuesday and was subjected to what the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs described as a “harsh and humiliating” security check on departure. Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely said Israel will not sever ties with Turkey, despite a diplomatic standoff over Gaza, adding that it was in Israel and Turkey’s interest for Na’eh to return to his post.

“Turkey is an important state in the region. When we have relations with Turkey, it’s not out of fondness and friendship. It’s about very important interests in the region. Turkey is a key state, all our aerial routes go through it, there are very deep trade relations, totalling NIS 5 billion (£1.03bn) per year,” Hotovely said.

Tourism Minister Yariv Levin has called on Israelis to refrain from travelling to Turkey. “As long as this is the treatment from the Turks, there is no reason for us to go there.”