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Erdoğan calls for action before Israel’s attacks spill into Syria

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Addressing a meeting of the Gulf Cooperation Council in Qatar on Tuesday, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan urged the international community to stop Israeli oppression before the conflict in Gaza expands to a regional war including Syria

On the second day of his visit to Qatar on Tuesday, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan attended the 44th Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) summit that brought together major Muslim countries in the region. The summit naturally focused on the Palestine-Israel conflict and what the Muslim, Arab world and international community in general could do to halt Israel’s atrocities. Erdoğan reiterated his warning on the risk of the conflict spreading to the wider region and denounced Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, whom he had earlier branded as a “butcher.”

Erdoğan said crimes committed by Israel in Gaza should not go unpunished.

“Israel’s war crimes, crimes against humanity in Gaza should not be left unanswered,” Erdoğan told the summit in the Qatari capital Doha. “Our priority is an immediate declaration of lasting cease-fire and provision of humanitarian aid flow,” the president noted.

Erdoğan stressed atrocities in Gaza should be prevented from turning into a regional war that also involves Syria. He also said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s administration is “jeopardizing security and the future of our entire region in order to prolong its political life span.”

Under the leadership of President Erdoğan, Türkiye has been a staunch advocate of the Palestinian cause, defending their land rights. Türkiye’s stand with Palestine led to a deterioration of ties, though the two sides took mutual steps for a thaw, right before the start of the new round of conflict on Oct. 7. Relations went into a downward spiral again while Ankara seeks a diplomatic solution to the conflict. Erdoğan often accuses Netanyahu of exploiting the conflict for his own political career, which was in danger before the conflict erupted over corruption allegations and controversial judicial reforms unpopular with the Israeli public.

The president lamented the end of the humanitarian pause that he hoped to be upgraded to a permanent cease-fire. “It is a war crime that more than 17,000 Palestinians, mostly children and women were killed,” he said. Erdoğan also highlighted Türkiye’s humanitarian aid to Gaza and said that they delivered 12 planes and two vessels loaded with humanitarian aid so far to Egypt, where Gaza has its only land crossing with, adding that they also airlifted injured Palestinian children and cancer patients from Gaza.

“The latest developments showed us that it was important for a sovereign, independent Palestinian state to be established, with East Jerusalem as its capital. Türkiye is ready to take responsibility, along with other regional countries, on that issue, including through the guarantorship model (we proposed earlier),” Erdoğan said.

The president hailed the recent emergency summit of the Arab League and Organisation for Islamic Cooperation (OIC) he attended in Riyadh and said it showed the world clearly that the regional countries were in solidarity with the people of Palestine. “It is important to follow up with the decisions made at the summit. Our foreign ministers are in touch. We also appreciate Qatar’s efforts for the humanitarian pause and prisoner exchange,” he said.

Further on Syria being threatened by Israel amid the conflict, Erdoğan said Syria’s territorial integrity and unity was also threatened by separatist terrorist groups such as the PKK/YPG, “the biggest obstacle for Syria’s stability. We expect all our brothers to be more cautious against these terrorist group’s attempts to legitimize themselves. We expect a political solution to the Syrian conflict in the framework of U.N. Resolution 2254. We invite all actors to cooperate to ensure it,” he said.

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