Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Turkey steps up pressure on Israel with appeal to Arab League to back Palestinian statehood at UN

CAIRO — Capitalizing on Turkey’s growing stature and influence across the Middle East at a time of regional upheaval, its prime minister ramped up the pressure on Israel and the United States on Tuesday, telling Arab League ministers they must vote for Palestinian statehood at the United Nations this month.

“Recognition of the Palestinian state is the only correct way,” the prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, said in a speech to members of Arab League in Cairo on the second day of his so-called “Arab Spring” tour. “It is not a choice but an obligation.”

Mr. Erdogan’s support of Palestinian statehood was certainly no surprise. But the commanding tone of his message, coupled with his increasingly hostile attitude toward Israel — which once considered Turkey its close friend — underscored how Turkey has now cast itself as a leader in the region. more