ANKARA: Turkey’s president Friday called on Israel to halt its offensive on the Gaza Strip and not to carry out a ground incursion, while the country’s prime minister said there could be no normalizing of Turkish-Israeli ties as long as Israel’s actions continue.
“I would like to remind Israel that [a ground operation] would lead to dangerous developments and sow the seeds of hatred,” President Abdullah Gul said as he was on his way out of a mosque following Friday prayers.
“Such an escalation could lead to chaos in our region,” he said.
The violence between Israel and Hamas militants in Gaza comes at a time when Turkey and Israel have been working toward improving ties that were soured after Israeli commandos stormed a pro-Palestinian aid ship in 2010, killing eight Turks and one Turkish-American.
Israel apologized to Turkey for the deaths and agreed to pay compensation under a U.S.-brokered arrangement in 2013. Turkish officials said in March that the sides were close to reaching a compensation deal that would lead to a restoration of ties.
But Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Friday that such a rapprochement could not happen at the moment.
“We cannot look positively at a process of normalization while bombs are raining on our [Palestinian] brothers,” Erdogan said at a meeting where he unveiled his policy aims if elected president.
“We cannot be on the side of the oppressor.”
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on July 12, 2014, on page 11.