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Turkey’s Opposition Joins Erdoğan in Condemning Trump’s Mideast Plan

Analysts say Turkish president will try to maintain positive relations with US president despite taking opposing positions

The Turkish parliament rejected Washington’s plan for Israeli-Palestinian peace on Wednesday, issuing a joint declaration among opposing parties in a rare show of nonpartisanship.

Both Turkish President Tayyip Erdoğan’s ruling AKP and the opposition parties in the parliament issued the statement condemning Trump’s deal.

“[The plan] is against UN decisions and the perspective of the two-state solution,” the declaration stated, according to the Turkish state news agency.

The main opposition party, the CHP, and the pro-Kurdish HDP both put out separate statements criticizing the plan’s proposal to not include a large part of Jerusalem from a Palestinian state.

The US plan would recognize a Palestinian state but analysts told The Media Line it would likely lead to discord in the region due to the favorable terms to Israel.

An emergency meeting of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation will likely be called over the plan, according to Muzaffer Senel, an assistant professor of political science and international relations at Istanbul Şehir University.

“Turkey will be one of the leading actors,” Senel said of Muslim-majority country’s efforts to garner support for Palestinians.

Although he warned the organization did not have a lot of influence and there would be some opposition from leaders of Muslim-majority countries who rely on Washington’s support to maintain power.

Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates, all rivals of Turkey, made supportive comments of the US plan after it was announced.

Senel argued the plan was meant to bolster domestic support for Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and US President Donald Trump amid re-election campaigns this year.

“This plan is not for Mideast peace for sure. It will bring more turmoil,” Senel told The Media Line.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas called the plan the “slap of the century,” a play on words referring to Trump’s remark that it was the “deal of the century.”

While he did not believe the warm relations between Trump and Erdoğan would be significantly harmed over their opposing positions, he did believe distrust between the two leaders could increase.

Nicholas Danforth, a senior visiting fellow at the US think tank the German Marshall Fund, stated that Erdoğan would be mindful of maintaining relations with the US president.

“Trump’s high-profile pro-Israel moves have consistently put Erdoğan in a difficult position. He has to walk a fine line between his desire to be a champion for the Palestinian people and his effort to keep Trump on his side against the rest of Washington,” Danforth wrote in a message to The Media Line.

“As a result, Erdoğan has unequivocally condemned the plan but avoided any pointed attacks on Trump himself.”

While Turkey has strained relations with the US and Israel, there are also benefits to their relations.

Turkey is NATO’s only Muslim-majority member state and has played a significant role in the US fight against ISIS, making it a valuable asset to the military alliance and the West.

Turkish Airlines and Istanbul’s airport is heavily used by Israelis and visitors to Israel, which contributes to the economies of both Israel and Turkey.

Danforth believed that Turkey could support some type of mediation between the US, Israel and Palestinians.

“With different leaders in the US, Turkey and Israel, Ankara could potentially play a useful role as an interlocutor with the Palestinians. At the moment, though, there’s little hope for any real negotiations,” he wrote.

Michael Koplow of the Israel Policy Forum, an American Jewish organization, told The Media Line that he did not believe Turkey could play in talks between opposing sides.

“I think Turkey’s role in this is not going to be beyond President Erdoğan making statements,” he told The Media Line.

Like Senel, Koplow agreed the plan was meant to help Trump domestically by increasing Israeli control over the West Bank, which would appeal to evangelical voters in the US, as well as those close to Trump.

“This is a road map to unilateral Israeli annexation, [rather] than to any peace plan so I think that’s what’s driving this,” he said.