Opposition parties slam gov’t over Israel deal
DHA photoAll three opposition parties in the Turkish parliament harshly criticized the government for the recent Ankara-Tel Aviv deal, which ended a six-year dispute between Turkey and Israel.
Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, the head of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), expanded his criticism to the June 27 letter sent by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, about the downing of a Russian jet in November last year for violating Turkish airspace.
“A deal was struck with Israel and right after that they sent an apology letter [to Putin]. The Kremlin announced that ‘Tayyip Erdoğan sent a letter to Putin [and] apologized on behalf of Turkey.’ Who are you to apologize? If you are to represent the Turkish Republic, then do it in a proper way,” Kılıçdaroğlu said on June 28 in comments apparently directed towards the president, while he was addressing his party deputies in parliament.
“You cannot represent the Turkish Republic. You don’t have the power or capability for this,” he added.
Ankara faced one of its busiest diplomacy days on June 27, with Israel and Turkey announcing a settlement and the normalization of ties, which had been cut after an Israeli attack on the Mavi Marmara aid flotilla to Gaza was raided by Israeli commandos in 2010.
Only hours after the announcement, the Kremlin revealed the Erdoğan letter, calling it a step for normalization. Ankara also confirmed the letter and the efforts.
Kılıçdaroğlu said Erdoğan’s stance on the matter constituted a u-turn.
“Who breached our border? The Russians. Who set the rules of engagement? We did it, and we declared it to the whole world,” he said, adding that statesman were in a race at the time to take responsibility for giving the order to down the Russian Sukhoi Su-24M bomber aircraft near the Syria–Turkey border on Nov. 24, 2015.
“Then we saw them offering an apology,” Kılıçdaroğlu said, recalling an Erdoğan interview on CNN International on Nov. 27, 2015, when the president said it was Russia which had to apologize for violating Turkish airspace.
“Look, their foreign policy is this: First you should roar like a lion and then you should meow like a cat when you cannot dare to do it,” he said.
“You may be meowing but this casts a shadow on the Turkish Republic,” he added.
On the Mavi Marmara incident, Kılıçdaroğlu said when the ship was to leave Turkey in May 2010, some ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) deputies had initially wanted to get on it but then stepped back “upon news they heard.”
He said the Israeli attack on the ship was by no means right.
“Turkey faced an action suitable for a pirate state,” he said, harshly criticizing the killing of 10 citizens in international waters.
However, the ruling party later named Israel “the number one enemy,” abusing the incident as an instrument of domestic policy.
Erdoğan had said in 2011 that aid flotillas from Turkey would be accompanied by navy ships to reach Gaza, but this never happened.
Erdoğan was the prime minister at the time and Kılıçdaroğlu criticized him for not keeping his promise.
“He did not send [the ships] and has begun to meow now,” the CHP head said.
He also recalled that Erdoğan vowed to go to Gaza in April 2013, but this also did not happen.
The CHP supported the three Ankara demands from Tel Aviv - an apology, an end to the Israeli embargo on Gaza and compensation.
Still, Kılıçdaroğlu said oral compensation was not enough and Turkey should receive it in writing.
He also slammed an Israeli demand for a code approved at the Turkish parliament which would ban further individual legal complaints about the killings.
“How can you sign such a deal?” he asked. “If you have even a little bit of conscience, how can you withdraw from this case in exchange for $20 million? Are you with your country, with justice or with those Israeli soldiers who killed [Turkish citizens]?”
Meanwhile, Figen Yüksekdağ, the co-chair of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), said the most crucial item of the deal with Israel was selling “Palestinian” natural gas to Europe.
“They are making a deal to market what belongs to orphan children in Palestine,” Yüksekdağ said, in her weekly address to party deputies.
“They are selling the words that they call ‘sacred’ at another bargaining table,” she said.
On the Russia crisis, Yüksekdağ said Turkey had apologized to Russia but the government was pretending not to.
Erdoğan’s office described the letter as an expression of regret, not an apology.
“In the letter, the president stated that he ‘would like to inform the family of the deceased Russian pilot that I [Erdoğan] share their pain and to offer my condolences to them. May they excuse us,’” Erdoğan’s spokesman, İbrahim Kalın, said.
Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) head Devlet Bahçeli said the “one minute show” that started in Davos in 2009 was now over.
“One minute” refers to Erdoğan’s interruption of a speech by then-Israeli President Shimon Peres. “When it is time to kill, you know how to kill well,” Erdoğan said at the time, vowing to no longer attend the meeting in the Swiss city.
With the Israeli deal, the “exploitation” has ended, Bahçeli said.
“The president had repeatedly accused Israel of being a terror state. Israel was killing Gazan children on beaches. Erdoğan was rightfully criticizing this heavily. He said Israel even surpassed Hitler in barbarism,” he said, citing Erdoğan’s former remarks.
“This means that the government has been meeting with Israel for years secretly and we were not aware of this,” the MHP head added.
“If we were to agree with Israel, make peace and hug each other, what was the meaning of these very heavy insults?” he asked.