Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said Gaza must be part of an independent, sovereign Palestinian state once the Israel-Hamas war is over, and Ankara will not support any plans “gradually erasing Palestinians” from history.
Turkey, which has sharply escalated its criticism of Israel as the humanitarian crisis in Gaza has intensified, supports a two-state solution and hosts members of Hamas, which it does not view as a terrorist organization, unlike the US, Britain and others in the west. Turkey has called for an immediate ceasefire and offered to set up a system to guarantee it.
Speaking to reporters on a return flight from Kazakhstan on Friday, Erdogan repeated his criticism of Western countries for their support of Israel, saying Ankara’s trust in the European Union was “deeply shaken”.
“Once all of this that is happening is finished, we want to see Gaza as a peaceful region that is a part of an independent Palestinian state, in line with 1967 borders, with territorial integrity, and with east Jerusalem as its capital,” Erdogan was on Saturday cited as saying by broadcaster Haberturk and others.
“We will support formulas that will bring peace and calm to the region. We will not be supportive of plans that will further darken the lives of Palestinians, that will gradually erase them from the scene of history.”
He also said his intelligence chief Ibrahim Kalin was in contact with Israeli and Palestinian authorities, as well as Hamas, but added that he would not regard Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu – who Erdogan said was the sole perpetrator of the situation in Gaza – as a counterpart.
“Netanyahu cannot in any way be taken as a counterpart for us anymore. We have erased him, thrown him out,” he said. “But otherwise, there can be no such thing as completely severing ties, especially not in international diplomacy,” he was cited as saying by Haberturk.
Envoys recalled in light of conflict
However, Ankara said later on Saturday it was recalling its ambassador to Israel, Sakir Ozkan Torunlar, for consultations, after Israel’s recalled its envoys to Turkey last month to reassess their ties following Erdogan’s description of Hamas as freedom fighters.
In a statement, Turkey’s foreign ministry said Torunlar was recalled “in view of the unfolding humanitarian tragedy in Gaza caused by the continuing attacks by Israel against civilians, and Israel’s refusal of calls for ceasefire and continuous and unhindered flow of humanitarian aid.”
Israeli diplomats in Turkey had left the country before its foreign ministry recalled them, due to security concerns after pro-Palestinian protests erupted across the country.
Prior to the Israel-Hamas war, Turkey was working to repair relations with Israel after years of acrimony.
Erdogan added that Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi would visit Turkey at the end of November, and that he would attend an Organisation for Islamic Cooperation (OIC) summit in Riyadh this month to discuss a ceasefire in Gaza.
He said Turkey would support any initiatives to ensure that Israel is held accountable for what he described as war crimes and human rights violations, and that a failure to do so would erode trust in the global system.