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15 opposition lawmakers from Turkey join int’l call to stop arms sales to Israel

Israeli soldiers wave as they return to a position in southern Israel on the border with the Gaza Strip on February 29, 2024, amid ongoing battles between Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas. (Photo by JACK GUEZ / AFP)

Fifteen opposition members of the Turkish Parliament have joined more than 200 legislators from 13 countries in expressing their opposition to the export of arms to Israel for its ongoing war on the Palestinian enclave of Gaza.

“We, the undersigned parliamentarians, declare our commitment to end our nations’ arms sales to the State of Israel. Our bombs and bullets must not be used to kill, maim, and dispossess Palestinians. But they are: we know that lethal weapons and their parts, made or shipped through our countries, currently aid the Israeli assault on Palestine that has claimed over 30,000 lives across Gaza and the West Bank,” the lawmakers said in their joint letter posted on the website of Progressive International on Friday.

Fourteen lawmakers from the pro-Kurdish Kurdish Peoples’ Equality and Democracy Party (DEM Party) including Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu and Cengiz Çandar, and Sezgin Tanrıkulu from the main opposition Republican People’s Party were among those who signed the letter from Turkey.

Lawmakers from Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and its far-right ally, the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), are not among the signatories of the letter despite their parties’ using the harshest anti-Israel rhetoric in Turkey, with AKP leader and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan accusing Israel of being a “terrorist state” and committing “genocide” in Gaza.

The signatories of the letter said an arms embargo against Israel had moved beyond a moral necessity to become a legal requirement following an interim ruling by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on the Genocide Convention against Israel.

In a case submitted to the ICJ by South Africa , the ICJ on January 26 ordered “immediate and effective measures” to protect Palestinians in the occupied Gaza Strip from the risk of genocide by ensuring sufficient humanitarian assistance and enabling basic services.

“We will not be complicit in Israel’s grave violation of international law. The ICJ ordered Israel not to kill, harm or ‘deliberately [inflict] on the [Palestinians] conditions of life calculated to bring about … physical destruction’,” the parliamentarians said.

They said Israel refused to comply with the ICJ order and instead pressed on with a planned assault on Rafah that the secretary general of the United Nations has warned will “exponentially increase what is already a humanitarian nightmare.”

“Today, we take a stand. We will take immediate and coordinated action in our respective legislatures to stop our countries from arming Israel,” the lawmakers said.

Their call came in the aftermath of the killing of more than 100 people in Gaza on Thursday when Israeli forces opened fire on thousands of desperate Gazans who surrounded a convoy of 38 aid trucks for food aid.

Among the other signatories of the letter are lawmakers from countries such as Germany, the United States, the UK and Canada that provide the most weapons to Israel.

These countries continue to supply arms to Israel despite mounting pressure from human rights groups.

According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute’s arms transfers database, 68 percent of Israel’s weapons imports from 2013 to 2022 came from the US. Another 28 percent came from Germany. Imports are funded in part by $3.3 billion of military aid provided annually by the US, along with $500 million for missile defense cooperation.

Progressive International is an international organization uniting and mobilizing progressive left-wing activists and organizations. Its founders are Greek politician Yanis Varoufakis and US independent senator Bernie Sanders.

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