Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused Israel of abusing the Palestinian people and lashed President Trump and Persian Gulf nations as “collaborators” during his speech to the United Nations General Assembly Tuesday.
“The Palestinian people have stood up against Israel’s policies of oppression, violence, and intimidation for more than half a century,” Erdogan said, condemning Trump’s peace deal between Israel, the United Arab Emirates, and Bahrain as a “document of surrender” for the Palestinians. “Israel this time accelerated its attempts to have the inside track with the help of its collaborators. Participation of some countries of the region in this game does not mean anything beyond serving Israel’s efforts to erode basic international parameters.”
Erdogan delivered his rebuke in a video address before the General Assembly, a high-profile venue for underscoring his disagreements with Trump, who regards Erdogan as one of his closest relationships within the club of world leaders. But Erdogan used the speech to denounce Israel and affirm his opposition to Trump’s signature foreign policy initiatives in the Middle East.
“The dirty hand that reaches the privacy of Jerusalem, where the sacred places of the three great religions coexist, is constantly increasing its audacity,” he said before condemning the United States’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of the Jewish state. “Countries that have declared their intention to open embassies in Jerusalem in violation of the United Nations resolutions and international law only serve to make the conflict more complicated with their actions.”
That attitude has some overlap with European skepticism of Trump’s partnership with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in keeping with widespread international support for an eventual agreement to establish a Palestinian state alongside Israel. But the intensity of Erdogan’s hostility to Trump’s policy in the Middle East has spurred the NATO ally into closer alignment with Iran and Hamas, U.S. officials have observed.
“Frankly, the only two countries that have vehemently denounced this were Iran and Turkey,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said last week during an Atlantic Council discussion of Israel’s accords with the UAE and Bahrain.
That observation came one month after Pompeo’s team issued a public rebuke of Erdogan’s decision to meet with Hamas leaders in Istanbul, Turkey.
“President Erdogan’s continued outreach to this terrorist organization only serves to isolate Turkey from the international community, harms the interests of the Palestinian people, and undercuts global efforts to prevent terrorist attacks launched from Gaza,” State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said on Aug. 25. “We continue to raise our concerns about the Turkish government’s relationship with Hamas at the highest levels.”
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani called attention to the affinity between Tehran and Ankara during his own address Tuesday, when he saluted “our fraternal neighbor, Turkey,” following the election of a Turkish diplomat to lead the General Assembly in the coming year.
Erdogan, for his part, stipulated his opposition to Trump’s move in recent days to dismantle the 2015 Iran nuclear deal and renew all U.N. sanctions on the regime.
“I would like to reiterate our call for all parties to abide by their obligations under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, which significantly contributes to regional and global security,” he said, using the official name for the pact.