Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan delivered a dramatic speech decrying Israel as a “terror state” and “child-killer state” on Sunday and accusing American President Donald Trump of using an “Evangelist understanding” of Israel to accept Jerusalem as the capital of the state.
“Jerusalem is the light of our eyes. We won’t leave it to the conscience of a state that only values occupation and looting,” Erdogan declared, according to Turkish newspaper Hurriyet. “We will continue our struggle decisively within the law and democracy.”
“Israel is a state of occupation and a terror state … will not leave Jerusalem to the consciousness of a child-killer state,” he added.
Erdogan went on to call the Palestinian territories “oppressed and a victim” and the development of Israel as “treachery.”
Erdogan also stated that he was engaging in “intense phone diplomacy” and had spoken to Pope Francis, among other world leaders, about President Trump’s announcement last week that the United States would recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and move its embassy there.
“We’ve told them that this issue is not one that only concerns Muslims; it is also the seizure of the rights of Christians. But I must say clearly that this step of the U.S. is completely an Evangelist understanding,” he said.
The Turkish president also lamented “dividedness and internal problems of the Islamic world” for allegedly making “it easier for the U.S. to adopt such a decision.” While he did not mention tensions between Sunni Saudi Arabia and Shiite Iran directly, he referenced a number of smaller struggles that have become proxy wars for those two countries, including the Syrian civil war, where Iran backs Alawite Shiite leader Bashar al-Assad over the Sunni rebels; and Yemen, where Saudi Arabia is engaged in an airstrike campaign against the Iran-backed Houthi rebels.
On Monday, Erdogan continued his campaign against the move, this time targeting the United States in remarks at a World Human Rights Day event.
“With its decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, the United States has become a partner in the bloodshed,” Erdogan declared. “The statement by U.S. President Donald Trump does not bind us, nor does it bind Jerusalem or the Muslim world.”
Erdogan’s Islamist Justice and Development Party (AKP) has made a push for being among the loudest opponents of Trump’s policy of recognizing Israel’s capital. His prime minister, Binali Yildirim, followed Erdogan’s suit on Monday, calling the move “unlawful and arrogant” and suggesting that “Islamic countries should move in unity against the U.S. move.”
The Turkish government’s repeated insults against Israel triggered a response from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who dismissed Erdogan as a would-be Islamist dictator.
“I am not used to receiving lectures about morality from a leader who bombs Kurdish villagers in his native Turkey, who jails journalists, who helps Iran get around international sanctions and who helps terrorists, including in Gaza, kill innocent people. That is not the man who is going to lecture us,” Netanyahu said in response.
“Instead of attacking our country and our leader, the Israeli authorities should end their occupation of Palestinian territories,” Erdogan spokesman İbrahim Kalın told reporters Monday in response to Netanyahu’s statement.
Erdogan’s government has antagonized Israel on the Jerusalem issue for months, long before President Trump announced his recognition as Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Erdogan made one of his most recent attacks on Israel in May, calling for Muslims to take over the Temple Mount and protect Jerusalem from Jewish people. That month, Erdogan met Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah to discuss “unifying efforts to protect Jerusalem against attempts of Judaization,” according to a Palestinian media outlet.
Erdogan called for an emergency summit of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to address President Trump’s policies last week, scheduled for December 13.