Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said that Israel agreed to lift its siege of Gaza as part of normalization talks between it and Turkey, however, its attack on Gaza shows that Israel does not want normalization in its relations with Turkey and as a result of the offensive, Turkey will delay the talks.
In his remarks on Saturday in Antalya, Erdoğan recalled that Turkey broke off relations with the country after the Mavi Marmara, a Gaza-bound aid flotilla, was raided by Israeli army forces in May of 2010. He said many countries tried to intervene in the issue and in the end Israel accepted making an apology and paying compensation in the matter.
“However, we had a third condition. We told them, ‘Lift the blockage on Gaza.’ They were almost going to say yes [to Turkey’s demand to lift the blockage]. But now this incident [Israeli attacks on Gaza] has broken out. What does this mean [but that they] don’t accept normalization with Turkey? It is not possible for Turkey to enter into a process of normalization as long as Israel continues acting against Palestine. I’m not just condemning Israel. If you want normalization and don’t meet our demand to lift the blockage on Gaza, that means you are not sincere on this issue,” he said and added, “We also have some steps that should be taken during the normalization process, however, now these steps are in a closed box.
This wasn’t the first time that the prime minister said that normalization with Israel is out of the question unless the Israeli attacks are halted. Last Thursday, Erdoğan stated that although Israel demands the normalization of ties with Turkey, its air assault on the Gaza strip, with no attempt to lift the siege there, makes the normalization of relations impossible.
After the Mavi Marmara incident in 2010 which resulted in nine deaths, Turkey put forward the proposal of lifting of the blockade on Gaza, compensation for the families of Mavi Marmara victims and a formal apology as conditions for reconciliation. With the mediation of the United States, Israel apologized for the fatalities in the flotilla incident. Earlier this year, Turkish and Israeli media outlets reported that Turkey and Israel were close to signing a compensation agreement, however, no official statement has come since from Turkish or Israeli officials on the matter.
However, according to reports circulating in the Turkish media, citing data from the Israeli Embassy in Ankara, foreign trade volume between Turkey and Israel has increased 27.6 percent in the first half of 2014 compared to the same period in 2013.
Erdoğan discusses Gaza offensive via phone diplomacy
After Israel’s deployment of tanks near its border with the Gaza Strip on Friday, Prime Minister Erdoğan has increased phone diplomacy over the weekend and exchanged views with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, French President François Hollande, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Qatar Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani over developments in Gaza.
According to Turkish media reports, citing sources in the Prime Ministry, a call for taking immediate steps to halt Israeli strikes on Gaza and the two parties returning to the terms of the 2012 ceasefire were the main highlights of the conversations that Erdoğan had.
During the phone conversation with the Qatari emir on Saturday, Erdoğan emphasized the need to stop the Gaza offensive and said that stability in the region can only be ensured through a fair and comprehensive peace..see more