Wearing the Palestinian keffiyeh, reacting to every word he said, and placing behind him an image of the Dome of the Rock surrounded by crowds carrying Turkish flags, the Turkish president wanted Recep Tayyip Erdogan His speech should be loud against Israel and include messages in more than one direction, the most important of which is his declaration that “Israel is a war criminal before the world.”
In his speech before a million-man demonstration in support of Gaza in Istanbul, Erdogan not only reiterated what he said in 2018 that Hamas is not a terrorist organization, but rather a legitimate resistance movement.
It is clear that the restoration of diplomatic relations between Israel and Turkey at the ambassadorial level and Erdogan’s reception of the Israeli president Isaac Herzog In 2022, she was killed, which Erdogan personally expressed when he confirmed the cancellation of all his plans to visit Israel due to its brutal attacks against the Palestinian people in Gaza.
The Turkish President escalated his words against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, saying, “I shook the hand of this (…) called Netanyahu once in my life (on the sidelines of the United Nations meetings last September). Of course, we had good intentions and they misused them.”
It seemed that the Israeli officials thought that Erdogan would not return to the high tone due to the process of starting to normalize relations, and this is evidenced by the escalation of the tone and the Israeli escalation against Turkey and Erdogan himself.
The most prominent of these responses was from Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen, who described the statements as “dangerous.”
He issued instructions to Israeli diplomatic representatives in Turkey to return with the aim of “reconsidering Turkish-Israeli relations.”
But the surprise was what the official Turkish Anatolia News Agency reported from diplomatic sources, saying, “The Israeli diplomats are not in Turkey at the present time, as they left our country as of last October 19 (that is, 6 days before Cohen’s tweet).”
The sources added, “In the memorandum they sent to the Turkish Foreign Ministry on October 18, they stated that in light of recent developments, the diplomats at the embassy would leave Turkey as of the 19th of the same month… It is difficult to understand to whom Cohen instructed to return (to Israel).” Because the diplomats he mentioned in his statement have already left our country.”
This is not the first time that Erdogan has rebuked or attacked Israel and its officials or supported Gaza and its people. Only 6 years after assuming the position of prime minister, he rebuked the then Israeli president, Shimon Peres, at the annual World Economic Forum in Davos in 2009, and accused the Israeli government of killing Palestinian children. .
What further heightened tensions was that in 2010, a flotilla of freedom ships attempted to break through the blockade imposed by the Israeli Navy on Gaza, which led to the killing of 10 Turks on board the Mavi Marmara ship.
The Turks and Israelis have tried to get closer and try to restore heat to relations since 2014, but the war on Gaza in 2018 and the announcement of former US President Donald Trump to move the Israeli embassy to Jerusalem, prompted the Turks to withdraw the ambassador from Tel Aviv, and so did Israel.
The future of relations between Tel Aviv and Ankara
The American newspaper “National Interest” says that “Erdogan, who heads a member state in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), did not stand by Israel in its darkest times as his Western allies did, and chose to join the Islamic world in supporting Palestine.”
She continued, “Ankara’s anti-Israel position enjoys the support of Turkish public opinion. This is not a matter specific to Turkey, but it largely represents the Islamic world.”
In turn, Israeli academic Galia Lindenstrauss called the rapprochement between Israel and Turkey after Erdogan’s speech “highly worded” and added that the normalization of relations between the two parties, which began in 2022, “has ended.”
She added, “Israel does not want to add any additional tension to the already crisis situation, and the government is working not to enter into a direct conflict with Turkey, but it will monitor Ankara’s statements and actions.”
On the other hand, Ahmed Uysal, professor of international relations at Istanbul University, says, “There is severe tension between Turkey and Israel due to the bombing of Gaza and the killing of civilians.”
He continued in an interview with Al Jazeera Net, “Erdogan declared that Israel is a war criminal, and responded by withdrawing a number of diplomats. The Turkish government and people will not be satisfied with what Israel is doing in Gaza.”
He pointed out the possibility that “Turkey will respond in kind and withdraw its diplomats from Tel Aviv, but so far Turkey is focusing on diplomatic pressure and mobilizing Western governments to put pressure on Israel, especially on its allies such as the United States, to stop its war on Gaza, and these diplomatic efforts will escalate and intensify if Israel continues its war.” .
Türkiye and Hamas
After Erdogan’s speech, it was noteworthy that the American magazine “Foreign Policy” asked about the possibility of Erdogan cutting ties with Hamas? It is likely that Washington will increase pressure on Erdogan to sever these relations.
The magazine quickly answers, in the first paragraph of its article, the question: “Forget cutting ties with Hamas. Erdogan is unlikely to unequivocally condemn the recent atrocities committed by Hamas as an act of terrorism. The reason for this is simple: Erdogan sympathizes with the Hamas cause.”
“Erdogan’s support for Hamas has made the organization and its cause very popular among his voter base. Just last week, Turkey witnessed several public rallies, all of them condemning Israel. Just two days after the deadly attacks, the Al-Huda Party – a partner in Erdogan’s ruling coalition – organized a celebratory march outside The Israeli Consulate in Istanbul, and they chanted against Israel.”
The American magazine concludes, “Many have speculated that establishing substantive relations between Turkey and Israel will not be possible until Turkey stops hosting Hamas on its soil. The Hamas attacks on October 7 provided Ankara with a unique opportunity for Turkey to stand alongside Israel, an opportunity that is likely To waste it.”
The Israeli response to the Turkish position did not stop only at politics, but also extended to the economy, as the Israeli newspaper “Haaretz” reported that a number of Israeli supermarket chains had stopped imports from Turkey.
The companies include the largest supermarket chain in Israel, “Shoversal,” and its main competitors, “Rami Levy” and “Yukhananov,” as well as a number of small importers.
Turkey has recently become one of the largest exporters to Israel, ranking fifth last year after China, the United States, Switzerland and Germany. In 2022, Israeli imports from Türkiye reached $7 billion.
Despite escalating tensions, the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline remains operational, supplying a significant portion of Israel’s annual oil needs.
The head of the Federation of Israeli Chambers of Commerce and the Turkish Exporters Association, Urel Lin, says the current situation represents a “complete shock” and could greatly affect imports to Israel.
He continued, “We are realistic and it is clear that many importers will be cautious about buying in Turkey. We also do not know if they want to sell to us.”
Another Israeli official – who requested to remain anonymous – seemed more optimistic, saying, “If we look at the trade data between Israel and Turkey over a long period, you can see that the total volume is constantly increasing.” He continued, “There are logical reasons for this, as it is a good economic force.” And inexpensive, close to us.
He explained, “The numbers rose despite the challenges and military operations in Gaza over the past decade. In most periods, there have always been challenges in relations between the two countries. Based on this experience, we expect that the trade volume we see today will continue at approximately the same level.”
Tomatoes and energy
Haaretz explains that some retailers who have stopped Turkish imports are doing so largely due to intense public pressure in recent days. Rami Levy, another large supermarket chain, has been accused of preferring Turkish tomatoes over Israeli ones, although the company denies this.
As part of the pressure, the Israeli Farmers Union sent a letter urging retailers to immediately implement the law requiring the labeling of the country of origin for products, a law set to take effect months from now.
In the letter, the union points out the damage the war has already inflicted on Israeli farmers, and mobilizes Israelis to help harvest and transport produce in places where foreign workers have left.
The farmers are also asking supermarket chains to label Israeli products so that consumers can show solidarity with their country’s agriculture.
Retailers appear to realize that Israeli consumers now consider Turkish tomatoes “forbidden” and many have announced that they will stop ordering them. However, the Ministry of Agriculture says 6 ships are scheduled to arrive this week carrying fruits and vegetables from Turkey.
A complete cessation of Turkish tomato imports would lead to a shortage, as local production only meets about half of the demand. Tomatoes must be imported from countries such as Greece or the Netherlands, which may make them a little more expensive.
Observers point out that the impact of this dispute may cause a delay in the implementation of some energy projects and at the level of political and security coordination, but in the end there is a common concern between Turkey and Israel that the relationship does not return to what it was before 2010.
This analysis is reinforced by the fact that the recent shipment of 1 million barrels of Azerbaijani crude oil from the Turkish port of Ceyhan to the Israeli port of Eilat came after Erdogan’s speech, indicating that economic considerations still play a decisive role in the relationship.
In addition, the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline operates normally, providing a large portion of Israel’s annual oil needs.
Source : Al Jazeera + Websites + social media sites