Turkish prime minister and presidential hopeful Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that Turkey’s relations with Israel will not return to their normal status so long as Israel continues its aggression on Palestinian territories.
At an Iftar organised by the governorate of Antalya in southern Turkey Saturday, Erdogan accused Israel of “dishonesty” and of reneging on its promises.
“Israel apologised to Turkey for what it did to the Mavi Marmara ship four years ago, and we were close to restoring normal relations with it if our conditions were fulfilled. But it was not honest,” Erdogan said.
Turkey has severed its normal relations with Israel since the Israeli attack on the Mavi Marmara humanitarian ship, which claimed the lives of nine Turkish citizens, straining Turkish-Israeli relations ever since. Turkey has set three conditions for restoring normal relations, including compensations to the families of victims, apology to Turkey, and lifting the siege on Gaza.
He added that normalising relations with Israel is “highly unlikely” as long as Israeli aggression continues.
Erdogan reaffirmed his country’s support for Palestinians, who lost more than 120 people in the current Israeli airstrikes on the Gaza Strip.
“Those who have no conscience will not understand our humanitarian activities to all victims of injustice worldwide,” he said, in response to criticism of Turkey’s role in sending humanitarian aid to Bosnia, Myanmar, Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Erdogan stressed that Turkey cannot sit on the fence when it comes to the Palestinian cause. He also criticised statements by the opposition’s presidential candidate Ekmelettin Ihsanoglu, who said that Turkey should be neutral vis-à-vis Palestine.