ANKARA: Turkiye is expected to add its weight to the extraordinary Organization of Islamic Cooperation summit on Gaza this Sunday, with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan set to call for a ceasefire and security arrangement on Palestine.
The summit aims to unite the position of OIC states on Palestine.
Leaders from across the region are expected to attend, with Erdogan likely to act as a key player, according to analysts.
On Nov. 4, the Turkish leader said: “I attach great importance to the OIC summit. In Riyadh, we will both push for a ceasefire and carry out preliminary work regarding procedures and principles.”
His potential attendance underscores Turkiye’s dedication to the Palestinian cause and regional efforts to deescalate the situation in Gaza.
Since Israel’s assault on the enclave began, Erdogan has issued sharp criticism of the governments in Tel Aviv and Washington, labeling military operations in Gaza as “genocide.”
He also announced on Friday that he had broken contact with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
At the 16th Economic Cooperation Organization Summit in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, Erdogan continued his criticism of the US and the West for their apparent silence on Israel’s actions in Gaza.
“Israel continues to bomb schools, mosques, churches, hospitals, crushing all humanitarian values,” he said.
He added that though world leaders in Paris walked “in solidarity after the murder of 25 people” in the Charlie Hebdo attack, “11,000 civilians, including children and women, were killed in Gaza.
“But the world leaders remain silent. When will we speak up?”
Turkiye, along with Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Egypt, had been working closely on a swap deal to release 240 Israeli hostages taken by Hamas in exchange for Palestinians in Israeli jails.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s recent visit to Ankara included discussions with his Turkish counterpart Hakan Fidan, who highlighted Turkiye’s proposed guarantorship system.
Sinan Ulgen, a former Turkish diplomat and chairman of the Istanbul-based Center for Economics and Foreign Policy, said that the Riyadh summit aims to build international pressure against Israeli attacks on civilians and raise awareness of the situation in Gaza.
“Erdogan will surely want to be part of this exercise given how critical he has been on Israel’s stance,” he told Arab News.
Discussions at the Riyadh summit will also cover the humanitarian response to the conflict, Ulgen said, adding that Turkiye will want to lead efforts, given it has sent medical aid to the region with field hospitals and the initiative to transfer Palestinian victims from Gaza to Turkiye for treatment.
“There will also be discussions on the political outcomes. The conference will underline the need for a fair and lasting settlement of the Palestine-Israel dispute, in the absence of which the region will continue to be beset by instability,” Ulgen said.
“There (In Riyadh), Turkiye will want to advance its own initiative of a multilateral security arrangement and commitments for Palestine, and will want to get the backing of the other participating countries for this initiative.”
In the meantime, Turkiye has so far sent 10 planes carrying 230 tons of humanitarian aid to El Arish airport for Gaza with Egyptian assistance.
Galip Dalay, a consulting fellow at Chatham House, said that at the summit, Turkiye will likely push for a ceasefire, Israeli withdrawal from occupied Gaza and the uninterrupted flow of aid to the enclave.
The country is also concerned about the potential de-Palestinization of Gaza and will emphasize preventing the mass exodus of Palestinian people from the region, he added.
“This is a serious concern that we might see in Turkiye’s stance during the summit because Ankara considers it as a form of ethnic cleansing and it is a major consideration for Turkiye,” he added.
Dalay said that Turkiye should leverage its role in regional diplomacy, engaging with Qatar, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia, while also considering working with non-Western powers like China and Russia to “globalize” the Palestinian cause.
“Turkiye — as one of the main actors in the region — offers a multilateral guarantee system for the Palestinian conflict. But it should also give content to this proposal beyond generic demands,” he said.
“Ankara can try to include the non-Western major powers in this process, especially China and Russia, to counter-balance the West’s unreserved support for Israeli attacks. Such a move would both regionalize and globalize the Palestinian cause,” he added.
Erdogan announced on Thursday that Turkiye will organize an international solidarity meeting on Nov. 15 in Istanbul that includes the spouses of several heads of state.