Turkish FM accuses Israel of terror, says it will 'pay a price'

Ankara continues a war of words with Israel; however, Turkish President Erdogan for the first time said his country could boycott the Jewish state.
author_image Ari Khalidi

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu on Tuesday accused Israel of creating terror for this month’s violence on the border with Gaza and its army’s killing of 50 Hamas militants as well as 12 Palestinian civilians, saying the Jewish state would pay the price for its conduct.

“Israel is increasingly becoming heedless [because] it is not paying a price. Therefore, Israel has to pay the price,” Cavusoglu said in remarks carried by the state media.

“Today, our brother Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki took what Israel does to the International Criminal Court. We will continue to pursue this [case],” the Turkish minister said without further elaboration.

Maliki took the step in the hope of a full probe into accusations of Israel’s human rights abuses in Gaza and occupied West Bank.

It was the latest in a war of words between Turkey and Israel whose leaders charge each other with war crimes in their dealings vis a vis the Kurds and Palestinians respectively.

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan whose administration is at war with Kurdish groups at home and in neighboring countries once again styled himself as a champion of the Palestinian cause against Israel and their right to a state.

Since then, Erdogan repeatedly called Israel “a state of terror, occupation” and likened it to gone Nazi Germany and South African Apartheid regimes.

“A man whose hands are stained with the blood of countless Kurds in Turkey and Syria is the last person who can preach to us about combat ethics,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in response last week.

Turkey invaded the Afrin region of Syrian Kurdistan with Russian greenlight and reluctant Western protest earlier this year, killing hundreds of civilians and displacing over 140,000 people in the process who Kurdish and US officials say are not allowed to return amid threats of demographic change.

“A man who sends thousands of Turkish soldiers to continue the occupation of Northern Cyprus and invades Syria will not preach to us when we defend ourselves from an attempted infiltration by Hamas,” Netanyahu tweeted.

Northern Cyprus, a self-declared Turkish Republic under the tutelage of Ankara, remains under Turkey’s occupation since its war with the Nicosia government in 1974.

Last week in Istanbul, Erdogan hosted a special meeting on Palestine of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), an international body with 57 Muslim-majority states.

There, he also condemned the United States for moving its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and said the American decision that sparked the latest round of Gaza violence marked the beginning of “new operations against the Islamic world.”

Despite repeated diplomatic and rhetorical confrontations, Ankara maintains decades-old robust commercial and military ties with Israel but it also actively backs Palestinian statehood, with Islamic Resistance Movement Hamas leaders at times enjoying a warm welcome at the Turkish capital.

Returning on Monday from Bosnia and Herzegovina where he held a controversial electoral rally for Turkey’s upcoming presidential and general elections next month, Erdogan for the first time put the ties with Israel in question.

“At OIC meeting, we took an advisory decision on the application of a boycott of their [Israel’s] products,” he told the pro-government media.

“I hope members of OIC will go for boycotting in line with the advice. As a result, it will not be possible to get any products from there [Israel] anymore. Of course, we will look at it the same way. We, as Turkey, put our especially economic, trade relations on the table,” he added.

“We will take [necessary] steps in this direction after the elections.”

Editing by Karzan Sulaivany