Turkey throws weight behind Palestinian UN bid

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Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan told Arab states on Tuesday it was time to raise the Palestinian flag at the United Nations and accused Israel of obstructing peace in the Middle East. Erdogan, addressing Arab foreign ministers in Cairo at the start of a Middle Eastern tour, said backing a bid for recognition of a Palestinian state at the United Nations later this month was “not an option but an obligation” for Arab states. He accused the United States, a close ally of Israel whose relations with Turkey have been frayed in recent months, of demonstrating prejudice in opposing the move as a potential irritant in a volatile area. “While Israel is trying to secure its legitimacy in our region on one hand, it is taking irresponsible steps which unsettle its legitimacy on the other,” Erdogan said. Erdogan’s recent criticism of Israel has drawn strong support in the Arab world, buttressing his campaign to promote Ankara’s blend of Islam and democracy as a model for movements that have toppled several Arab autocrats, including Egypt’s former president Hosni Mubarak. In another swipe at Israel he said its government’s mentality was “inhumane and lacks all legal basis”. “Every Jewish settlement is a wall that blocks peace. We hope that the Israeli people are aware of the walls of isolation their government builds around them,” he said.