Middle East

Turkey halts normalization of ties with ‘oppressor’ Israel

A Palestinian burns tires during clashes with Israeli security forces following a protest in the village of Kfar Qaddum, near the northern city of Nablus, in the occupied West Bank on July 11, 2014. AFP PHOTO/ JAAFAR ASHTIYEH

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.




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