Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday accused Israel of oppressive policies towards Palestinians, including the alleged forced displacement of residents in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
We must work with all our might to preserve the status and sanctity of Jerusalem, the capital of Palestine. The main thing is the establishment of lasting peace and stability on the basis of a two-state solution and established international parameters, he said in a speech, according to local media.
The comments were made despite the infrequent high-level conversations between Erdogan and Israeli leaders this month, following the release last week of an Israeli couple, Mordy and Natali Oknin, who had been arrested in Turkey and detained for eight days for photographing Erdogans Palace.
The government had specifically thanked Erdogan for his role in their release and Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and President Isaac Herzog both had appeals with the Turkish leader.
Erdogan’s personal involvement in securing the couple’s release was seen as a signal of strengthening ties between Turkey and Israel, Turkish officials told Israeli public broadcaster Kan last week.
Despite the harsh rhetoric, Erdogan said on Wednesday that continuing dialogue with Israel was in Turkey’s interest, and called for the resumption of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.
Turkey, once a powerful Muslim ally of Israel, has become a geopolitical enemy under Erdogan, who in the past has regularly launched violent attacks against former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Israel and Turkey officially ended a six-year diplomatic split in 2016, but ties remained strained and in May 2018, after violent protests on the Gaza border in which more than 60 Palestinians, mostly members Hamas and other terrorist groups were killed, Erdogan blamed Israel for the deaths, calling it a terrorist state committing genocide.
Turkey also recalled its ambassador and expelled Israeli ambassador Eitan Naeh, as well as his consul in Istanbul.
In December 2020, Erdogan said he wanted to improve relations with Israel after years of criticism. Our intelligence relations with Israel have not ceased anyway, they still continue, Erdogan said at a press conference. We have some difficulty with the people at the top.
After the election of US President Joe Bidens, Turkey announced that it would appoint a new ambassador to Israel, with the aim of strengthening ties with Washington.
Agencies contributed to this report.
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