Turkey has recommended an "international protection mechanism" for Palestine's civilians in an emergency meeting of Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), as Israel continued its aggression in besieged Gaza on the seventh consecutive day.
"These efforts should also include physical protection through forming an international protection force with military and financial contributions of willing countries," Turkey's Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told the virtual meeting of the 57-member Islamic bloc on Sunday, adding such a mechanism is in line with a 2018 UN General Assembly resolution. It is time to show unity and determination for Palestine, and Turkey is ready to take any necessary step, he said.
Stating that efforts to normalise ties with Israel have emboldened it, he added: "We should stand for justice and humanity. There should be no other considerations. This is time to show our unity and decisiveness. The ummah (Muslim community) expects our leadership and courage, and Turkey is ready to take whatever action is necessary."
Cavusoglu told the OIC that Israel should be held accountable for war crimes and that the International Criminal Court could play a role.
Saudi Arabia's foreign minister condemned Israel's "flagrant violations" of Palestinian rights and called on the international community to act urgently to put an end to military operations.
Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud called for global action to end military operations while fellow Gulf states that forged ties with Israel said a ceasefire was needed for regional stability.
He also condemned what he called the violation of the sanctity of Islamic holy sites. The fighting comes at a sensitive time for Arab states like the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain which last year broke a longstanding taboo in the region by establishing formal ties with Israel, with tacit approval from Gulf power Saudi Arabia.
Emirati and Bahraini ministers at the gathering of the 57-member OIC called for a ceasefire and stressed the importance of preserving the identity of occupied Jerusalem, which contains sites sacred to Judaism, Islam and Christianity.
But Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al Maliki criticised countries that moved to normalise relations with Israel last year.
"Normalisation and running towards this colonial Israeli system without achieving peace and ending the Israeli occupation of Arab and Palestinian lands represents support for the apartheid regime and participation in its crimes," Maliki told the OIC meeting.
"This colonial occupation must be confronted, dismantled, ended, and banned. The recently accelerated normalisation will not have an impact on the sentiments of the Arab world or change their assessment."