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Turkey proposes international force to protect Palestinians

May 17, 2021 at 4:34 pm

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu (R) meets Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki (L) in Ankara, Turkey on May 07, 2021 [Cem Özdel – Anadolu Agency]

Turkey has called for an international force to protect the Palestinians, as Israel’s military offensive against the Gaza Strip remains ongoing. Around 200 Palestinians have been killed since last Monday, including at least 58 children. Hundreds more have been wounded.

At an emergency meeting of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), member states such as Saudi Arabia, Malaysia and Pakistan reiterated their condemnation of Israel’s actions against Palestinians in occupied East Jerusalem and the war crimes it has committed over the past week in the besieged Gaza Strip. Turkey, however, proposed the formation of an “international protection mechanism” for the people of occupied Palestine.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told delegates yesterday that, “These efforts should also include physical protection through forming an international protection force with military and financial contributions of willing countries.”

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Cavusoglu called on the OIC and international community to stand for justice and humanity. “There should be no other considerations. This is the time to show our unity and decisiveness.” He added that the Muslims of the world expect the OIC to display leadership and courage. “Turkey is ready to take whatever action is necessary,” he added.

Although details of such an international force and mechanism were not discussed, Cavusoglu assured the OIC that it is in line with a 2018 UN General Assembly resolution, granting it legitimacy under international law.

The foreign minister’s remarks echo the idea of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan which he put forward in a telephone call to Russian President Vladimir Putin last week. Erdogan emphasised the need to send “an international protection force to the region in order to protect Palestinian civilians” and act as a “deterrent”.

He also called on the UN Security Council to get involved and “give clear messages to Israel to halt attacks before [the] crisis grows further.”