Erdoğan’s boundaries with Israel

Ankara is taking important and productive steps to normalize its bilateral relations with countries with whom ties were previously chaotic to ease tensions with the West and move toward creating a more balanced landscape. 

This tense atmosphere, which started in the summer months of 2020 through the East Mediterranean crisis with the European Union, and went as far as sanctions, has currently been replaced with a serene atmosphere. 

Meanwhile, relations with the U.S. are progressing in a “foreseeable” climate, albeit rife with deep conflict.

When Russia’s invasion of Ukraine displayed Turkey’s significance in the Atlantic alliance, Europe’s spoiled child Greece was instructed to “sit still, look pretty.” 

This is the main reason why the provocative discourses from Athens ceased immediately. 

 Additionally, there are five other countries with whom Turkey is striving to thaw ties with: The United Arab Emirates (UAE), Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Armenia, and Israel. 

 We are currently going through a period in which our relations with these five countries – with whom bilateral relations were rocky for various reasons – have either been normalized or are on the path to normalization. 


Normalization with Israel cannot be at the cost of Palestine 

While Turkey’s opposition is trying to assign negative meanings to these normalization steps, referring to it as a “U-turn,” these initiatives are being welcomed by a large segment of the public. 

As a matter of fact, the very same factions had previously spread propaganda claiming we are a “lone” country because of the ruling government’s foreign policy. 

The question we need to ask here is at “what cost” these initiatives are being made. 

When the people we meet abroad while roaming the streets of that country learn we are from Turkey, their first reaction is to exclaim and say, “Erdogan.” 

When we ask them what they think about Erdoğan, they give two-word descriptions: “strong man and tough man.” 

I heard the same words in recent months from an American during a quick chat in front of New York’s Central Park, then a while later from an African businessman, whom I came across in Senegal’s capital, Dakar. 

I give these examples because I think it’s necessary to know that President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who is leading these normalization steps in line with Turkey’s vested interests, adopted this approach “by maintaining the sine qua non.” 

Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, for his part, made a statement a couple of months ago, when relations with Israel were getting back on track: “Any step to be taken in our relations with Israel, any normalization, will not be at the cost of Palestine – as was the case with other countries.” 

Radical Israeli groups and security forces’ ruthless acts of violence against Palestinians in Jerusalem and Ramallah, at al-Aqsa Mosque during the month of Ramadan, virtually serving as a test aimed at Ankara’s approach. 


Erdoğan’s sensitivity when it comes to Palestine, Jerusalem 

President Erdoğan had not yet met with Israeli President Isaac Herzog at the time of the Justice and Development Party’s (AK Party) Central Executive Board (MYK) meeting on Monday.  

Erdoğan’s speech to MYK members at the meeting was along the lines of: 

“We always told Israel that Palestine, that Jerusalem, that Al Aqsa Mosque is our red line. We will say the same in our meeting with Mr. Herzog: ‘If you want to have good relations with us, you must respect these red lines.’”

Thus, Erdoğan shared the details of his meeting with Herzog, referring to the acts of violence against Palestinians via his social media accounts, in an “open policy” approach

“We have been deeply grieved by the injury of more than 400 Palestinians, and the death of 18 people, including children, in the events taking place in the West Bank and Al Aqsa Mosque since the start of the month of Ramadan,” Erdogan said.

“I would like to emphasize once more the necessity of preventing any provocation and threat aimed at Al Aqsa Mosque’s status and spirituality during this sensitive period,” the Turkish president added.

He also touched on the same topic yesterday during his party’s group assembly and said: 

“It is clear that the effective defense of the Palestine cause lies in having reasonable and balanced relations with Israel. However, this does not mean that we will ignore the attacks targeting our sacred values in Jerusalem and other Palestinian territories—ever.” 

 Israel-based Hayom newspaper reported that following the telephone conversation between Erdoğan and Herzog, Israel decided to suspend Jews’ entry to Al Aqsa Mosque from next Friday until the end of Ramadan. Hopefully, this is an accurate report, and the decision taken will be fully implemented. 

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