Israel-Turkey ties will not normalize unless Gaza assault stops, says PM Erdoğan
A digger removes the rubble of the Ghanam family home after it was targeted in an Israeli air raid on Rafah, in the southern of Gaza strip, July 1. AFP PhotoTurkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said July 10 ties with Israel would not return to normal unless the Netanyahu government ceased its deadly offensive on the Gaza Strip.
“You will first stop this oppression. If not, it is not possible to realize normalization between Turkey and Israel,” Erdoğan said in the central Anatolian city of Yozgat after a dinner breaking the daily Ramadan fast. Relations between once-regional allies Israel and Turkey hit an all-time low when 10 Turkish activists died in a 2010 maritime assault by Israeli commandos on Gaza-bound ship Mavi Marmara in international waters. The Israeli assault provoked a sharp response from Ankara, which expelled the Israeli ambassador, demanded a formal apology, compensation for the victims, and an end to the blockade on Gaza.
Israel and Turkey have been locked in talks for more than a year over compensation, after the former extended a formal apology to Ankara in a breakthrough brokered by US President Barack Obama. Erdoğan said Thursday that Turkey’s first two conditions, apology and compensation, appeared to have been fulfilled. But he said deadly raids on Gaza showed that Israel had no intention of complying with Ankara’s third condition: to end the blockade on the Palestinian enclave. “Then how can we normalize (ties) with you?” said the premier. Erdoğan also lashed out at Israel’s “disproportionate use of force against innocent” Palestinians, calling on the world and the United Nations to stop the assault.
Earlier in the day, Erdoğan called Palestinian leaders amid Israeli military operations. The prime minister discussed the developments in Palestine with President Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas leader Khaleed Meshaal. He reportedly called on the two leaders to stand in unity against Israeli attacks, also stressing the need for action from the international community for Gaza in order to stop Israeli attacks and provide humanitarian assistance.
Erdoğan has also reportedly instructed the relevant Turkish institutions to launch an aid campaign for Gaza in a bid to supply the necessary humanitarian needs to the Palestinians.