Political and Civil Society Reactions in Turkey on Israel’s Annexation Plans

Turkish authorities have reacted with harsh criticism to the current developments in the context of the Israeli government’s annexation plans. While the specificities of the plan have yet to be resolved, the AKP-led government in Turkey supported an extraordinary ministerial meeting by the Executive Committee of the Organization for Islamic Cooperation (OIC), already on June 10. The Turkish Foreign Minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, argued at the meeting that the annexation plan would destroy all possibilities for a two-state solution and turn Israel to a racist state, demanding a united stance against Israel’s current moves. He further proposed the urgent need to organize an OIC meeting that would be joined by representatives of the UN, EU, the African Union as well as Russia. Hence, Turkey’s aim is to push for an intensive cooperation between the OIC and international actors to prevent Israel’s annexation plans.1 Beyond that, the published resolution of the OIC calls to implement deterrent measures against all actors, who support Israel in „violating international law and UN resolution related to the question of Palestine.“ The resolution also demands political, legal and economic measures and pushes for a „banning of companies on the database issued by UNHRC having corporate ties with Israel’s settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory.“ Lastly, the OIC member states had discussed the situation for Palestinians during the Corona pandemic and agreed to step up financial support to Palestinians.2 Consequently, on June 25, the Turkish government announced to transfer five million U.S. Dollars to Palestinian authorities.3

Mevlut Cavusoglu, Turkish Foreign Minister (Photo: Lithuanian MFA, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Likely, due to the current Corona restrictions and its implications, Turkish civil society organizations have not organized a notable public protest. Merely, the Muslim Brotherhood affiliated youth organization AGD (Anadolu Genclik Dernegi) started the hashtag campaign #İlhakaKarşıFilistineSesVer (engl: give Palestine a voice against annexation) that appears to have reached only a limited range. However, what caused an uproar on social media and also prompted reactions by a wide array of Islamic NGOs and politicians was Israeli authorities’ removal of a sign with the Turkish flag at the wall of the Yusufiye Cemetery in East Jerusalem, on June 25. The sign was installed ten years ago as part of a restoration project by the Turkish Cooperation and Coordination agency (TIKA).4 Ömer Celik, the AKP spokesperson, denounced the act as an open provocation. TIKA itself commented the issue, referring to the step as an „illegal act of those uncomfortable with the presence of #Turkey’s efforts exerted for peace and prosperity in the region.” The pro-government news outlet Anadolu Agency emphasized in this context that Israeli far-right groups had recently launched a campaign against Turkey’s presence in East Jerusalem as well as their support for Palestinians.5

Speech of Mevlut Cavusoglu during the OIC meeting6

“Israel’s annexation of the West Bank and the illegal settlements will be a violation of international law. All hopes for a long-term peace in the Middle East will be destroyed. This means the end of the two-state solution towards the one-state solution, which will turn Israel into a racist state […] To prevent such an outcome we must show unity of purpose and a common attitude. […] If the occupying power (Israel) crosses the red line, we (as the Islamic states) must show that there will be consequences. The so-called ‘100 Year Plan’ is Israel’s annexation plan. We had emphasized that this plan was not a peace plan from the beginning, but an annexation plan. The strong objections to the plan from the OIC last February are an important warning. Our strength comes from our unity and as long as we move together we can make a difference. Today we must once again get our message across to the world in an open and clear way. We must once again lead the international community against Israel’s illegal practices.”

In response to Mahmoud Abbas’ calls for support on May 19, Cavusoglu said, “We must support Palestine’s proposed roadmap both verbally and through action. If we want to raise international awareness of the situation of the Palestinian people, we must also take our efforts to the global arena.”

“In order to prevent Israeli aggression, we need to be in close communication with other members of the international community.”

“Furthermore, we should support Palestine’s proposal for the international peace conference. Together with actors such as the OIC and the EU, it should play an active role in the organisation of this conference. Finally, in view of Israel’s irresponsible attitude in the declaration of the new government, it seems necessary to organise the extraordinary OIC summit with the participation of international actors such as the United Nations, the EU, the African Union and Russia […]”.

Author: Yasemin Altintop

  1. CNN Turk. 2020. Son dakika: Bakan Cavusoglu’ndan Israil’in ilhak planina tepki. (Includes Cavusoglu’s speech at the OIC meeting in Turkish), https://www.cnnturk.com/dunya/son-dakika-bakan-cavusoglundan-israilin-ilhak-planina-tepki, last accessed on June 29, 2020. 

  2. OIC. 2020. Resolution Adopted by the Open-Ended Virtual Extraordinary Meeting of the OIC Executive Committee at the Level of Foreign Ministers on the Threats of the Israeli Occupation Government to Annex Parts of State of Palestine’s territory Occupied in 1967. https://www.oic-oci.org/topic/?t_id=23484&t_ref=14035&lan=en, last accessed on June 29,2020. 

  3. Haberler. 2020. Türkiye, koronavirüse karsi Filistin‘e 5 milyon dolar hibe edecek. https://www.haberler.com/turkiye-koronaviruse-karsi-filistin-e-5-milyon-13362749-haberi/, last accessed on June 29, 2020. 

  4. Asmar, Ahmend. 2020. Israeli claims about Turkish cemetery plaque disproved. https://www.aa.com.tr/en/middle-east/israeli-claims-about-turkish-cemetery-plaque-disproved/1889894, last accessed on June 29, 2020. 

  5. CNN Turk. 2020. Ak Parti Sözcüsü Ömer Celik’ten Israil’e tepki. https://www.cnnturk.com/turkiye/ak-parti-sozcusu-omer-celikten-israile-tepki, last accessed on June 29, 2020. 

  6. Own translation. Source: https://www.cnnturk.com/dunya/son-dakika-bakan-cavusoglundan-israilin-ilhak-planina-tepki