UPDATE 2 – Turkey ‘to never accept’ Jerusalem as Israeli capital

By Ahmet Gurhan Kartal

LONDON (AA) – Turkey will never accept the U.S. decision to recognize Jerusalem as capital of Israel, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Tuesday.

“We will never accept US attempt to move embassy to Jerusalem and to recognize Jerusalem as Israeli capital,” Erdogan said in a joint news conference with British Prime Minister Theresa May following their meeting in London.

Erdogan said the U.S. government’s “indifferent policies” encouraged Israel more on occupation and violence in Palestine.

“Israel took these steps with a logic of ‘I am might, therefore I am right’”, the president said, adding “Israel is the occupier there and it continues terrorizing [Palestinians].”

He called on international community and the UN “to act without wasting time and stop this oppression” in Palestine.

Reminding the UN General Assembly vote on the U.S. decision of recognizing Jerusalem as the Israeli capital, Erdogan said 128 countries rejected the U.S. move.

“History will not forgive you [US], we will see this reality; history will never forgive Israel, we will see this too,” Erdogan added.

Turkish president underlined that a “strong message” from Istanbul will be given to the world on Friday as Turkey, as the term president of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, called an emergency meeting over the killings in Gaza.

May, for her part, called for an “independent and transparent investigation” to find out what happened in Gaza yesterday.

“The loss of life we have seen is tragic and extremely concerning. Such violence is destructive to peace efforts and we call on all sides to show restraint,” she said.

“There is an urgent need to establish the facts on what happened […], including why such a volume of live fire was used and what part Hamas played,” she added.

May said they would not question Israel’s right to defend its borders, but “the use of live fire and resulting loss of life is deeply troubling.”

“It is in everyone’s interest for peace and stability to prevail in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories,” May added.

At least 62 Palestinians were martyred and thousands more injured by Israeli forces along the Gaza border Monday amid protests marking the Nakba anniversary and the relocation of the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Since the border rallies began on March 30, more than 110 Palestinian demonstrators have been killed by cross-border Israeli gunfire, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry.

– Turkey-UK relations

Erdogan reiterated appreciation for the solidarity extended by the U.K. over the 2016 defeated coup in Turkey.

His meeting with Queen Elizabeth II and Prime Minister May focused on bilateral ties in detail, the Turkish President said on the final day of his 3-day visit to the U.K.

“The trade and investment working group we formed during the prime minister’s visit to Turkey in January 2017 is functioning well. We are also glad that a transition period between the U.K. and the EU is agreed in terms of Brexit," he said.

Erdogan said the U.K. is the second biggest export market for Turkey, adding the trade volume between Turkey and the U.K. was at a level of $16 billion in 2017 but “our target for bilateral trade is $20 billion.”

Also talking about cooperation in fight against terrorism, Erdogan said Turkey would like to deepen relations with the U.K. in related matters such as banning the activities of terrorist organizations such as PKK, Daesh, DHKP-C and FETO, freezing their assets and deporting their members.

The Turkish president said he handed over a list of terrorists to the British prime minister. He stressed that Turkey killed 3,000 Daesh terrorists in Jarablus.

Responding to a question, Erdogan underlined that Turkey deported more than 6,000 foreign fighters and said some are being tried in Turkey.

Since her visit to Ankara in January last year, May said: “Both Turkey and the U.K. have suffered grievous attacks by terrorists.”

She said: “Since the Daesh is militarily defeated, we are aware of the risk of foreign fighters dispersing from Syria and Iraq. To counter this, we have today agreed concrete steps towards measures that would formalize our information sharing.”

British premier said when Turkey deports such individuals, it would also share the evidential media collected from their mobile devices so conviction of them would be easier for the U.K.

Turkey and the U.K. also agreed for the need of a political settlement to end the war in Syria, May added.

She said the two countries “reiterated condemnation” over the “terrible chemical attacks in Douma and Salisbury.

She added that the two incidents are different in terms of magnitude, “they are part of a pattern to disregard the global norms to prohibit the use of chemical weapons.”

May said British Home Office and Turkish Interior Ministry will be committed to information sharing between their agencies.

The British prime minister also commended Turkey’s “extraordinary generosity” in hosting more than three and a half million Syrian refugees and educating more than 600,000 Syrian children.

“We recognize the enormous effort that the Turkish authorities are making to give those refugees the help they need,” she said.

“In total the U.K. has committed more than £750 million both bilaterally and through the EU budget to the Facility for Refugees in Turkey, in order to support those efforts,” she added.

President Erdogan also held a meeting with members of the Neturei Karta Orthodox Jewish Congregation before leaving for Turkey.