The Turkish president wants to push ties to a “better point” but says Israel’s policy towards the Palestinians is “unacceptable.”
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says Turkey would like to have better ties with Israel and that intelligence talks are continuing between the two sides, but he also criticized Israel’s policy towards the Palestinians as “unacceptable.”
Speaking to reporters after Friday prayers in Istanbul, Erdogan said Turkey has had problems with “the people at the highest level” in Israel and that the ties could have been “very different” if not for those issues.
“Palestinian politics is our red line. It is impossible for us to accept Israeli policies on Palestine. Their ruthless acts are unacceptable, “Erdogan said.
“Had there been no problems at the highest levels, our ties could have been very different,” he added. “We would like to take our ties to a better point.”
Turkey was the first Muslim-majority country to recognize Israel in 1949. They enjoyed excellent relations and strong commercial ties until Erdogan came to power.
In recent years, Ankara has repeatedly condemned the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and the treatment of Palestinians.
Turkey first severed diplomatic relations with Israel in 2010 after 10 pro-Palestinian Turkish activists were killed by Israeli commandos who boarded a Turkish-owned flotilla attempting to provide aid and break the maritime blockade of Gaza. lasted for years from Israel.
The Israeli blockade of the occupied Gaza Strip has been in effect since June 2007, when Israel imposed an air, sea and land blockade on the area.
They restored ties in 2016, but relations were strengthened again in 2018.
In May of that year, Ankara withdrew its envoy for deadly attacks on Palestinians in the besieged Gaza Strip in protest of US President Donald Trump’s decision to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
Erdogan and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu often exchanged angry remarks, but both countries continue to trade with each other.
In August this year, Israel accused Turkey of giving passports to a dozen Hamas members in Istanbul, describing the move as “a very hostile step” that its government allegedly took with Turkish officials.
Hamas seized the besieged Gaza Strip by forces loyal to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in 2007. Since then, Israel has intensified its siege and launched three long-running military attacks on Gaza.
Turkey claims that Hamas is a legitimate democratically elected political movement.
Despite Erdogan’s stance on Israel’s policy in Palestine, Ankara is reported to have appointed a new ambassador to Israel after a two-year absence.
Earlier this month, an Al-Monitor report said the decision to appoint 40-year-old Ufuk Ulutas as the new Turkish ambassador is part of an attempt to improve ties with the administration of incoming president-elect Joe Biden. in the U.S.
His appointment came when several Arab countries, Bahrain, Morocco, Sudan and the United Arab Emirates, agreed to normalize diplomatic relations with Israel in the agreements Trump negotiated.