Turkey this week announced the removal of several of its ambassadors from Israel and the United States following the inauguration of the new U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem and the deaths in Gaza.
Erdogan also expelled Israeli Ambassador Eitan Naeh, who was told by Turkey’s defense minister that it would be “appropriate” if he returned to Israel “for a while.”
Turkey’s President had warned of such a response back in December following President Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital city of Israel, the Washington Post reported.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced on Monday that he was pulling the country’s ambassadors to Israel and the United States after at least 55 Palestinians were killed by the Israeli Army at the Gaza Strip. The U.S. Embassy inauguration took place the same day.
“The United States has chosen to be a part of the problem rather than the solution with its latest step, and has lost its mediating role in the peace process,” Erdogan said.
The announcement by Erdogan was made during a speech in London just hours after the U.S. Embassy’s inauguration. The Turkish president also declared three days of mourning to honor those killed during the violence at the Gaza border.
Furthermore, Erdogan formally called on the United Nations Security Council to hold an emergency meeting, declaring Israel a “terror state” that committed “a genocide” and referring to the deaths as a “massacre.”
In a statement released on Monday, Turkey’s Foreign Ministry echoed similar sentiments.
“We curse the massacre carried out by Israeli security forces on the Palestinians participating in peaceful demonstrations. Neither regional nor global peace and stability will be viable unless the Palestinian question is settled through a lasting and just solution, and unfair treatments towards Palestinian people cease,” the statement read.
“We strongly condemn the decision of the U.S. Administration to move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, violating international law and all relevant U.N. Resolutions. We reiterate that this action is legally null and void,” the statement added.
Following Turkey’s harsh criticism of the U.S., Pentagon spokesperson Eric Pahon said on Tuesday that Erdogan’s decision would not hinder cooperation between the two countries, and that the U.S. still considers Turkey to be a valuable ally.
“We continue to work with our close NATO ally, Turkey, on a variety of mutual security concerns,” he said. “They continue to be an indispensable partner in operations to defeat ISIS.”