Muslim countries right now are opting to solve the Gaza issue by using all diplomatic and humanitarian tools, Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan said.
Muslim countries are currently united in an action group comprising Türkiye, Indonesia, Nigeria, Jordan, Egypt, Qatar and Saudi Arabia. Representatives are set to begin diplomatic efforts in various capitals starting next week, Fidan said in an interview with Al-Jazeera.
Both the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and the Arab League (AL) play crucial roles in addressing the Gaza crisis on the international stage, he said.
Regarding Ankara’s decision-making process, Fidan said Türkiye preferred collective action with other nations to maximize the effect of their measures.
About the differing stances between Türkiye and the U.S. on a cease-fire, Fidan said Ankara advocates for an immediate cease-fire and uninterrupted humanitarian aid to Gaza. While acknowledging disagreements with the U.S. on a comprehensive cease-fire, he expressed optimism about achieving a humanitarian truce.
On the other hand, Fidan reiterated that Türkiye does not consider Hamas a terror organization. Hamas operates as a political party within the Palestinian state system and is a reality born out of the conditions of occupation, he said.
“We are a country that recognizes the State of Palestine, and along with us, nearly 140 countries also recognize it. Therefore, we do not subject parties operating within any state to a classification of terrorist or non-terrorist,” he said.
Fidan also expressed confidence that once the occupation ends, organizations like Hamas will reintegrate into normal life.
“We honestly do not agree that the question of who will govern Gaza without a two-state solution is a valid one. Gaza was already under governance before the conflict and can continue to govern itself. Gaza does not have a problem with self-governance. The real issue in Gaza is being held under occupation, subjected to continuous attacks, and the destruction of its infrastructure,” he added.
Regarding prisoner exchanges, Fidan acknowledged Qatar’s extensive efforts and Türkiye’s contributions to resolving the crisis. He commended Egypt’s efforts at the Rafah border crossing for humanitarian aid and noted ongoing diplomatic initiatives to facilitate aid through the Al-Arish Port.
Turkish officials, led by Fidan, are actively working to establish a common platform concerning the Gaza crisis.
When questioned about whether Türkiye would take a lead in creating a bloc similar to the economic, political and military boycott pursued by the U.S. against Russia during the Ukraine war, Fidan said there are no obstacles to such an initiative. He emphasized the topic is currently on Türkiye’s agenda.
Fidan went on to say the initial steps taken, highlighting the commencement of discussions within the OIC.
An event hosted by first lady Emine Erdoğan, where the first ladies and representatives of countries from all across the globe gathered in Istanbul during a United for Peace in Palestine Summit, Fidan described it as an initial attempt.
The primary focus lies in the creation of a common platform initially with members of the Muslim and Arab world, utilizing organizations like the OIC and the Arab League.
Addressing why Türkiye delayed boycotting Israel and withdrawing its ambassador, he said coordinated actions with other Muslim-majority countries were essential for a more effective response.
Stressing the pivotal role of the U.S. in the crisis, he expressed concerns about the Western world’s silence on the atrocities in Gaza.
Türkiye is looking to build a coalition with Muslim countries and Arab nations and later expand its solidarity to Latin America, Africa and other countries at the U.N., he said.
Risk of nuclear arms race
Fidan also expressed concerns that Israel’s continued possession of nuclear weapons could heighten the nuclear arms race, leading to an unfavorable situation.
“The ongoing possession of nuclear weapons by Israel, coupled with the failure to denuclearize the region, will escalate the nuclear arms race, leading to increased nuclearization in the area. This is not a favorable situation for both the region and the world,” Fidan said.
“Israel’s possession of nuclear weapons has been a known yet unacknowledged secret for many years – a fact that everyone is aware of but no one has admitted. We see that Israel has developed its nuclear capability by not becoming a party to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, and we also know that it has received significant support from both the U.S. and Europe in this regard. So, this is not a secret,” he said.
The minister emphasized the need for complete denuclearization of the region or other countries to take steps to enhance their security, stressing the urgency to find a solution to the critical strategic issue.
Attack on UN school
Meanwhile, the Foreign Ministry condemned an Israeli attack on the U.N. Al-Fakhoura school in the Jabalia refugee camp in the northern Gaza Strip.
“We strongly condemn Israel’s attack on the Al-Fakhoura school operated by the U.N. in Gaza on Nov. 18, which resulted in the killing of dozens of innocent Palestinian children,” the ministry said in a statement early Sunday.
It said the attack is more “evidence” that Israel “deliberately and ruthlessly targeted the civilian population, especially children, in Gaza.”
The number of women and children who have been killed at the hands of Israel in Gaza in the last five weeks is “a source of shame for humanity,” it said.
The international community should no longer “turn a blind eye to Israel undermining law and all humanitarian values with the grave crimes it has committed,” said the ministry.
“The perpetrators of these massacres, already becoming a dark stain in human history, must be held accountable for the unspeakable suffering they have caused in court,” it said.
“It is imperative to immediately declare an unconditional and lasting ceasefire in Gaza. We call on every conscientious member of the international community to take the necessary steps in this direction,” it said.
Dozens were killed and injured Saturday in an Israeli bombardment of the U.N.-run learning center in the camp.