Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Friday hosts for the second time in half a year a summit of the world’s main pan-Islamic group seeking to show solidarity with the Palestinians and condemn Israel after deadly clashes at the Gaza border Monday in which some 60 Palestinians were killed by IDF fire.
Many in the international community have criticized Israel for the deaths, while the IDF and Hamas have claimed, each for its own reasons, that many of the dead were members of Gazan terror groups.
Erdogan, who is in the middle of an election campaign in Turkey, has reacted with unbridled fury to the deaths, accusing Israel of “genocide,” calling it a “terror state,” and saying it was run as an “apartheid state.”
His comments sparked a diplomatic crisis between Turkey and Israel and Erdogan has also called a mass demonstration that his supporters said was expected to draw hundreds of thousands of people Friday to protest Israel’s actions.
Erdogan has already hosted an extraordinary meeting of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in December last year to denounce US President Donald Trump’s decision to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
He has already vowed that Friday’s summit would send a “strong message to the world” over Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians.
However, as in the 2017 meeting, disputes between the OIC’s key players — notably between Sunni kingpin Saudi Arabia and Shiite Iran — may prevent the adoption of any measures going beyond harsh rhetoric.
Riyadh — which appears to have softened its stance on Israel amid its regional power struggle with Iran and as the influence of powerful Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has grown — and its allies fear alienating the United States with tough measures against Israel.
Saudi Arabia’s chief foreign policy preoccupation, shared with Israel, is ensuring US backing to contain Iran which both Riyadh and the Jewish state see as the main threat to regional peace.