Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has ruled out a possible normalization with Israel unless Gaza siege and widening offensive end.
Erdoğan, speaking in a western Turkish province of Yozgat on Thursday, said it is not possible for Ankara to restore ties while Israel continues with its siege of Gaza and pounding the strip with thousands of bombs. Erdoğan said he had three conditions for normalization and the first two — apology and compensation — seemed to be met. “But it appears that Israel didn’t have an intention to lift the Gaza siege,” Erdoğan said, asking “How are we going to normalize with you?”
Erdoğan pointed to Israel who “drops 300-400,000 bombs in Gaza in a show of disproportionate use of force against innocent people” as the main culprit of lack of peace in the world. “Until when will the humanity remain silent to that?” the prime minister asked rhetorically.
“First you need to stop this despotism. Normalization between Turkey and Israel is not possible until you stop this [siege and offensive]. I want to particularly highlight this,” Erdoğan concluded.
Erdoğan said he spoke on the phone on Thursday with several leaders with respect to the Gaza offensive. Prime Ministry sources confirmed that he spoke to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal.
In separate conversations with the two leaders, Erdoğan said the Israeli attacks on the Hamas-run Gaza Strip must stop and that the ceasefire must be restored immediately, according to the sources. The prime minister condemned the attacks, which he said have sparked deep concern and outrage in Turkey. He also assured the Palestinian leaders that he was following the developments in the region closely and urged them to act in unity.
Abbas and Mashaal thanked Turkey for its support and urged the international community to do its share to ensure ceasefire be restored immediately.
An Israeli aerial assault this week targeting Hamas sites in Gaza has left at least 85 Palestinians in the coastal strip dead. Israel has also mobilized 40,000 reservists for a possible ground operation, although it says it remains focused on the aerial campaign for the time being.