[Israel, 28/10/2023]– Israel has taken the significant step of recalling its diplomatic staff from Turkey following a scathing criticism by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan over Israel’s military operation targeting Hamas militants in Gaza.
This decision marks a setback to the recent efforts to mend the political and economic relations between the two countries, which had remained strained for a decade.
The recent thaw in relations had seen the reappointment of ambassadors and discussions about a US-backed natural gas pipeline project that held the promise of closer cooperation in the coming years. However, Erdogan’s heightened condemnation of Israel’s military actions in Gaza has now led to a diplomatic rupture.
On October 7, Hamas militants launched a surprise attack, resulting in numerous casualties and the capture of hostages. The Gaza health ministry, under Hamas’s control, reported a significant number of casualties, predominantly civilians, including many children, due to Israeli strikes.
President Erdogan, a staunch supporter of Palestinian rights during his two-decade rule, addressed a massive rally in Istanbul. In his speech, he accused Israel of being an occupier and labeled it a “war criminal” for its actions in Gaza. Erdogan also criticized Western powers, asserting that they were using Israel as a tool to exert authority in the Middle East.
In response to Erdogan’s remarks, Israel promptly ordered the return of its diplomatic representatives from Turkey, signaling the need for a thorough reevaluation of the bilateral relations between the two nations. Erdogan’s address followed days of pro-Palestinian protests in Turkey, predominantly organized by right-wing and Islamic conservative groups. Recent polls, however, indicate that a majority of respondents in Turkey prefer their country to remain neutral or play a mediating role in the ongoing conflict.