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Monday 25 June 2018

Calls for international force for Gaza

Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan has called for an "international peace force" to protect Palestinians after dozens were shot dead by Israeli forces on the Gaza border.

Speaking at the 57-member Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), which was hosted in Istanbul on Friday, Erdogan said Israel should be held accountable for the killings.

"To take action for Palestinians massacred by Israeli bandits is to show the whole world that humanity is not dead," Erdogan said.

Muslim leaders pledged to take "appropriate political [and] economic measures" against countries that followed the US in moving their Israel embassies to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv.

Erdogan, who is campaigning for re-election next month, used the summit to verbally attack Israel. He also castigated America, saying its decision to move its embassy had emboldened Israel to put down the protests at the border with Gaza with excessive force.

Most countries say the status of Jerusalem - a sacred city to Jews, Muslims and Christians - should be determined in a final peace settlement between Israel and Palestinians and that moving their embassies now would prejudge any such deal.

Donald Trump's step to recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital and move the embassy there reversed decades of US policy, upsetting the Arab world and Western allies. Guatemala last week became the second country to move its embassy to Jerusalem, and Paraguay said it would follow suit this month.

The final declaration of the meeting of the OIC described the killing of 60 Palestinians, protesting against the embassy move on Monday, as "savage crimes committed by the Israeli forces with the backing of the US administration".

It said the violence should be put on the agenda of the UN Security Council and General Assembly, and called on the United Nations to investigate the killings.

The summit was attended by Jordan's King Abdullah, a US ally whose Hashemite dynasty is custodian of Muslim and Christian holy sites in Jerusalem.

Sunday Independent

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