Turkey wants better ties with Israel, talks to continue, says Erdoğan
Turkey would like to have better ties with Israel, and talks at the intelligence level will continue between the two sides, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Dec. 25, while criticizing Israeli policy toward Palestinians as “unacceptable.”
Turkey had issues with “people at the top level” in Israel, and that ties could have been “very different” if it were not for those issues, Erdoğan told reporters after Friday prayers in Istanbul.
“If there were no issues at the top level, our ties could have been very different,” he said.
“The Palestine policy is our red line. It is impossible for us to accept Israel’s Palestine policies. Their merciless acts there are unacceptable,” Erdoğan said.
“We would like to bring our ties to a better point,” he added.
Israel and Turkey have had a bitter falling out in recent years, despite strong commercial ties. Ankara has repeatedly condemned Israel’s occupation in the West Bank and its treatment of Palestinians.
Turkish-Israeli relations were suspended in 2010 after the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) stormed the Mavi Marmara, part of the Gaza-bound “Gaza Freedom Flotilla,” which was trying to break the Israeli blockade on Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. Some 10 Turkish activists were killed in the raid.
In 2016, Israel and Turkey reached an agreement to normalize relations after six years of strained ties. However, the two capitals were not able to meet the normalization process mainly due to issues regarding Israeli interventions in the Palestinian territories.
The former allies expelled each other’s top diplomats in 2018 over clashes when dozens of Palestinians were killed by Israeli forces on the Gaza border. However, Ankara and Tel Aviv have continued to trade with one another over the years.
In August, Israel accused Turkey of giving passports to a dozen Hamas members in Istanbul, describing the move as “a very unfriendly step” which his government would raise with Turkish officials.