Israel has announced the recall of its diplomatic staff from Turkey following President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s controversial likening of Israel’s military campaign in Gaza to the Holocaust.
Tensions between the two nations have escalated dramatically in the wake of Erdogan’s remarks.
Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen made the announcement, expressing grave concern about Turkey’s statements and the need to reassess the relations between the two countries.
“Given the grave statements coming from Turkey, I have ordered the return of diplomatic representatives there in order to conduct a re-evaluation of the relations between Israel and Turkey,” Cohen stated.
This decision was triggered by President Erdogan’s strong condemnation of Israel’s actions in Gaza, where the conflict has raged for 22 days. Erdogan accused Israel of committing war crimes and drew a controversial parallel between their actions in Gaza and the Holocaust.
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“In the past, they were massacring the Jewish people in the gas chambers, and they were indeed wiping out whole regions with bombs. A similar mentality is being shown in Gaza today,” President Erdogan proclaimed while addressing a crowd in Istanbul.
The Turkish President’s comments have fueled a diplomatic crisis, with top Turkish officials canceling planned visits to Israel, and Israeli diplomats departing their posts in Istanbul and Ankara due to security concerns.
Erdogan’s rhetoric was a departure from his recent overtures to Western nations and was sharply critical of those supporting Israel’s response to Hamas’s brutal attacks on October 7.
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“If you put some politicians with consciences aside, this massacre taking place in Gaza is the product of the West,” Erdogan declared, asserting that Western nations have accumulated “a lot of sins” by backing Israel’s actions.
While Israel and Turkey had been working to improve their relations before the recent outbreak of conflict, the situation has grown increasingly strained. A planned visit by Turkey’s energy minister to Israel next month, aimed at discussing gas sales, has been called off, indicating a deterioration in diplomatic ties.
Although there has been no official declaration of a downgrading of relations between Israel and Turkey, Israeli diplomats have temporarily evacuated both Ankara and Istanbul for security reasons. It is essential to emphasise that this move is characterised as a security measure rather than a diplomatic rupture, according to a source familiar with the situation.
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