Massive anti-Israel rally planned in Istanbul, coinciding with ‘emergency’ Islamic group meeting.
By Herb Keinon
“Those who live in glass houses should not throw stones,” National Infrastructure, Energy and Water Minister Yuval Steinitz said on Thursday, in response to Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Cavusoglu’s call for Israel to be taken to the International Criminal Court.
If Cavusoglu would look at what Turkey is doing to the Kurds both in Turkey and in Syria, he would understand that Turkey is “ripe” to end up at the ICC long before Israel, Steinitz said in a Kan Bet radio interview.
With that, Steinitz stressed that he was not recommending taking Turkey to the ICC, nor in cutting ties – either diplomatic or economic – with Ankara.
Cavusoglu, however, was far less accommodating toward Israel, saying in a television interview that Turkey is looking at the legal steps that can be taken to bring Israel to the ICC.
“Since third parties cannot do it, Palestine needs to initiate this,” he said, adding that Turkey has given the Palestinians legal advice on this matter.
He also called on the UN Human Rights Committee, meeting on Friday in Geneva, to appoint an independent committee of inquiry.
“This crime against humanity should be probed by an independent commission and Israel should account for its actions before the law,” he said.
Meanwhile, Steinitz – who in recent years has been involved in talks with Ankara over the possibility of exporting Israel’s natural gas to or through Turkey – said that while the “blood boils” over the rhetoric coming out of Ankara, neither economic nor diplomatic ties should be cut off.
Economic ties benefit both sides, he said.
And regarding the diplomatic relations, Steinitz said that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan – whom he characterized as “the boss who has gone crazy” – won’t be in power forever, and that in 10 or 15 years Israel is going to want to have good ties with the country. For that reason, he said, Israel should not burn all the bridges now, saying this was why he was opposed to a move gaining traction in the Knesset for Israel to recognize the Armenian Genocide by the Turks.
Steinitz said that not only Israel, but also the US, Germany, the Netherlands and Italy, have been on the receiving end of Erdogan’s tirades, and are furious with Turkey.
“Turkey is a problematic country for us, and also for most of the Western world,” he said.
But, he maintained, Israel should behave as have the other countries Erdogan has antagonized with his antics, which have not cut off ties because of “realpolitik” concerns.
Steinitz linked Erdogan’s recent vitriolic tirades against Israel to elections in Turkey next month, and said he hoped that things would calm down after the balloting.
In the meantime, however, the tone coming out of Turkey is anything but calm, and is expected to get worse on Friday when tens of thousands of people are expected to take part in an anti-Israel rally in Istanbul’s central Taksim Square, where Erdogan is scheduled to speak.
In addition, Erdogan – who is currently the chairman of the 57-member Organization of Islamic Cooperation – is convening an emergency meeting of the body in Istanbul on Friday to discuss the situation in the Gaza Strip and the transfer of the US Embassy to Jerusalem.
The last time Erdogan convened such a meeting was in December, just a week after the US recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
That meeting turned into an Israel-bashing parley, and the same is expected on Friday.
“The summit will focus on the stances and steps to be taken by Islamic countries to defend Palestine and Jerusalem in cooperation and solidarity with the State of Palestine and its people,” Ibrahim Kalin, chief foreign policy adviser to Erdogan, said on Thursday, according to the Hurriyet Daily News.
“The Israeli occupation and the Palestinian issue are not only issues that concern Muslim countries, but everyone who believes in justice and law. Steps to be taken to mobilize the international community for ending the ongoing cruelty in Palestine will be addressed at the summit,” he added.