Turkey calls for international conference to reach permanent peace in Middle East


ANKARA (Reuters) -Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdogan said on Saturday that an international peace conference should be convened to find a permanent solution to the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.

Erdogan was addressing a joint Islamic-Arab summit in Saudi Arabia’s capital Riyadh, where leaders gathered to urge Israel to end hostilities in Gaza.

“Israel is taking revenge…on Gazan babies, children and women,” Erdogan said, renewing his call for an immediate ceasefire. “What is urgent in Gaza is not pauses for few hours, rather we need a permanent ceasefire.”

On the sidelines of the summit, Erdogan held bilateral talks with leaders including Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

Erdogan told his counterparts that Turkey was ready to collaborate in delivering humanitarian aid and health services to Gaza, the Turkish presidency said.

Turkey, which has sharply escalated its criticism of Israel as the humanitarian crisis in Gaza has intensified, supports a two-state solution and hosts members of Hamas, which it does not view as a terrorist organisation, unlike the United States, Britain and others in the West.

“We cannot put Hamas resisters defending their homeland in the same category as the occupiers,” Erdogan said.

A permanent solution to the conflict between Israel and Palestinians depends on the formation of a Palestinian state based on 1967 borders, Erdogan said.

“We believe that an international peace conference will provide the most suitable basis for this. We are ready to make the necessary efforts, including as a guarantor, to preserve the peace to be established in this context,” he said.

Israel’s Heritage Minister Amihay Eliyahu’s remarks on the idea of Israel carrying out a nuclear strike on Gaza revealed the existence of Israel’s nuclear weapons, Erdogan said, calling for an international investigation.

“If there are nuclear bombs that were hidden from the examination of the International Atomic Energy Agency, they should be revealed as well,” Erdogan said.

Israel does not publicly acknowledge it has nuclear weapons though the Federation of American Scientists estimates Israel has about 90 nuclear warheads.

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu suspended Eliyahu from cabinet meetings “until further notice” after his comments.

(Reporting by Huseyin Hayatsever; Editing by Kirsten Donovan and Christina Fincher)



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