World Jewish News
Turkey treatens to cut ties with Israel over Jerusalem issue
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said Tuesday that Ankara would break diplomatic ties with Israel if the United States recognises Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. The Turkish premier also said he would call the Organization for Islamic Cooperation into emergency session in order to craft a joint front against a change in US policy, which could become public as early as Wednesday.
In Jerusalem, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs noted that Jerusalem has been the Jewish people’s capital city for more than 3,000 years and the capital of Israel for 70 years, regardless of official recognition by the Turkish leader.
In addition, Education Minister Naftali Bennett dismissed Erdoğan’s missive as little more than the latest in a long string of verbal attacks against Israel. ”Unfortunately, Erdogan does not miss an opportunity to attack Israel.
“Israel must advance its goals, including the recognition of United Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Israel.
“There will always be those who criticize, but at the end of the day it is better to have a united Jerusalem than Erdogan’s sympathy,” Bennett said in a statement.
Erdoğan joined local leaders, including Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) and Jordan’s King Abdullah II, who have urged the American administration not to revisit US policy in the region and warned that move could spark an outburst of violence, by Palestinians in Israel and by Muslims around the world against US interests, embassies and diplomatic staff. Some Israeli leaders have brushed off the threat of violence as a bluff and suggested that influential Arab countries, including Saudi Arabia, may have come to favour a regional agreement with Israel, even if it leaves the Palestinians out, in order to focus a coalition on fighting Iran.
Monday evening, Hebrew-language Channel 10 reported that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee that security forces in the capital and around the country are prepared to deal with an escalation in violence should one erupt following Trump’s policy speech on Wednesday.
“We are prepared for every possibility. The security forces know best how to act, if and when it is necessary,” Netanyahu reportedly told the committee.
Erdoğan’s threat to cut ties is the latest missive in a diplomatic offensive against Israel by the Turkish leader that has lasted more than a decade. In 2004, Erdoğan, the the prime minister, accused then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon of conducting a policy of “state terrorism” towards Palestinians and compared Israel’s treatment of Palestinians to the persecution of Jews during the Spanish inquisition. Later, in 2008, Erdoğan said Israel carried out “crimes against humanity” during the Operation Cast Lead incursion to Gaza, and notably stormed off stage the following year during an appearance with Israel’s President Shimon Peres at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland after Peres defended Israel’s performance during that conflict.
More recently, diplomatic ties ground virtually to a halt in 2009, when 10 Turkish nationals were killed during when the Israel Navy intercepted a protest flotilla intended to break Israel’s naval blockade of Gaza, imposed after Hamas took over the Strip in 2006. Diplomatic relations officially resumed in June, 2016 when the Israeli government agreed to contribute to an international compensation fund for the families of the protesters, and to allow Turkey limited access to export humanitarian aid to Gaza.
Despite the political turmoil between the countries, however, economic ties between Israel and Turkey have continued to flourish. According to figures provided by the Israel-Turkey Business Council and Chamber of Commerce and Industry, bilateral trade between the countries has grown from $1.4 billion in 2005 to $3.9 billion in 2016, and a predicted $4 billion this year. Turkish officials have taken pains to stress that “political stress” between the countries would not affect business ties.
“Politics will not mess up business and collaborative relationships in the fields of technology and industry,” Turkish ambassador to Israel, Kemal Okem told a joint meeting of Israeli and Turkish hi-tech professionals in early November.