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How Turkey under Erdogan strategically avoids taking sides between Israel and Palestine

How Turkey under Erdogan strategically avoids taking sides between Israel and Palestine

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan might be wishing hard for world to stay oblivious to his double standards towards Israelis and Palestinians conflict, but in vain. On Monday, in a video message released to wish US Muslims on the occasion of Eid al-Fitr, Turkish President criticised Israel’s plan to annex parts of the West Bank and openly supported Palestinians.

“Last week we have witnessed that a new occupation and annexation project, which disregards Palestine’s sovereignty and the international law, was put into action by Israel,” Erdogan said, in his message to while US muslims on the Eid holiday.

“We will not allow the Palestinian lands to be offered to anyone else. I would like to reiterate that Al Quds Al Sharif [the Arabic name for Jerusalem], the holy site of three religions and our first kiblah, is a red line for all Muslims in the world,” he added.

On Sunday, Turkey’s hypocrisy got unveiled, after the President Erdogan allowed Israeli Israeli airline El Al to restart cargo flights for the first time in a decade, between Tel Aviv and Istanbul. Turkey sent humanitarian aid and protective equipment for US medical teams fighting the coronavirus pandemic, in those flights.

Turkey’s support to Palestinian cause and two-state solution is not new, but what is new is Mr. Erdogan’s economic partnership with Israel. The two nations share a common interest to enhance bilateral trade and energy cooperation. Of late the world has seen strengthened economic ties between Israel and Turkey, wherein Israel has been pumping up its natural gas reserves to become a key energy supplier to Turkey.

Earlier on a Monday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu he would not miss the “historic opportunity” to annex parts of West Bank to put them under Israeli sovereignty. He called his annexation planon top agenda for his new government. Netanyahu has announced July 1 has a target date to launch the West Bank annexations.

In order to discourage Israel from going forward with its annexation plan, deemed illegal by Palestinian leaders, opposition parties in the Turkish parliament proposed to impose sanctions on Israel and along with nullifying all political, economic and military agreements with the country. But the proposal was collectively rejected by AKP deputies on 15 May 2018.

Complexity for Ankara doesn’t end here, rather its support to the militant group, Hamas has been slammed by various Arab nations and Western world as promotion of terrorist groups.

Burak Bilgehan Özpek, a lecturer at the Ankara-based TOBB University, said that the Jared Kushner’s Middle East plan, which supports one nation policy for Israel,could put Turkey’s ties with Hamas under greater scrutiny. Turkey might need to think about delinking its financial and ideological ties with Hamas.

In its bid to make everyone happy ranging from US, Israel, Palestinians and members of Hamas, Turkey might pull itself into a pit of regional isolation. Israel-Palestinian conflict clearly reveals the Erdogan’s flawed foreign policy which favours only opportunity.

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