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Turkey pushes Jerusalem as capital of Palestine, Russia balks

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called Israel a state of "occupation and terror" during a keynote speech at the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) summit in Istanbul on Wednesday.

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called Israel a state of “occupation and terror” during a keynote speech at the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) summit in Istanbul on Wednesday.

“Israel is a country of occupation and terror. The Israeli government tortures unarmed people,” said the president, showing the picture of a Palestinian teenager with closed eyes, surrounded by Israeli soldiers.

He also proposed that Jerusalem must be recognized as the capital of Palestine.

“Destroying international standards, the United States has recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, just take a few steps in the city and you realize that Jerusalem is occupied, Israel is a terrorist state. Jerusalem could be the capital of the occupied Palestinian state,” Erdogan said.

The Turkish president thanked the countries that expressed their opposition to Trump’s decision. Critics have Erdogan have regarded such remarks in the past as demagogic.  The common view is that Erdogan’s remarks are meant to distract from his opposition to the only real and viable opposition to-date of Israeli occupation of foreign lands, namely that of Hezbollah with regard to Lebanon, and Syria and its Syrian Arab Army with regard to the Golan Heights, which is Israeli occupied Syria.

“I believe that the 196 UN member states will present their right position,” he added. “The United States can be a strong nuclear power, but it does not belong to the whole world.”

Representatives from 48 countries participate in the OIC Summit, in which 16 are represented by the leaders of the respective states. The summit will be concluded with the publication of a final statement regarding the US decision on Jerusalem.

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Dmitry Peskov, spokesman for the president of Russia, said that the Kremlin’s position does not coincide with that of Turkey.

Russia officially disagrees with the US position on the recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Russia’s line here is reflective of international law – Tel Aviv is Israel’s capital, and Israel is free to move it anywhere within the pre-1967 borders. International agreements have recognized Tel Aviv as Israel’s capital, Jerusalem as an international city, with East Jerusalem a potential or viable candidate as the capital of an independent Palestinian state.

“We know this position, but it does not coincide with ours,” said Peskov, commenting on Erdogan’s statement.

On December 6th, US President Donald Trump announced that his country recognizes the city of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

In 1980, Israel declared Jerusalem its “unique and indivisible” capital, including the eastern part of the city, occupied in 1967 after the end of the Six Day War. Palestinians, on the other hand, rightfully consider East Jerusalem as the capital of their country.

The status of the city has become one of the central problems of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, which should be resolved together with the Palestinians. That is why all foreign embassies in Israel are in Tel Aviv.

Trump, however, has already transferred the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. The statement provoked and continues to provoke huge protests among the Palestinians.

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