Dec 15 2017

Turkey’s Jerusalem reaction only rhetoric, experts say

Despite the escalating war of words between leaders of the two countries, Turkey will not sever economic or military ties with Israel, analysts told Chinese state-run news agency Xinhua.

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan slammed Israel after U.S. President Donald Trump announced on Dec. 6 that he would recognize Jerusalem as the Israeli capital and relocate the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv.

Erdoğan branded Israel a “terrorist state” and “occupier,” while Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded by harshly criticising Turkey’s targeting of its Kurdish minority.

“I do not expect Turkey's President Erdoğan to go as far as taking economic or military measures against Israel,” Xinhua quoted former Turkish Foreign Minister Yaşar Yakış as saying.

The Turkish economy is under pressure of current account deficit, high inflation and unemployment, and severing economic ties would be against Ankara’s interests, Xinhua wrote.

Turkey is also cooperating with Israel over military surveillance systems, and giving them up would be detrimental for Turkey, Cahit Armağan Dilek, a former Turkish military officer, said.

Turkey may take temporary diplomatic actions in protest, Dilek added.

Citing Turkey's main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, Xinhua remarked that Erdoğan’s rhetoric over Jerusalem may be aimed more at his domestic base.

“Go ahead and cut off ties. We are also behind you. Talk is cheap,” Kılıçdaroğlu said.

Foreign Minister Mevlut Çavuşoğlu said on Thursday that Turkey would open an embassy in East Jerusalem, Xinhua reported, after it was declared as the capital of Palestine on the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) meeting in Istanbul.

Engin Altay, the CHP's parliamentary chairman, said his party would support the move unconditionally.

Turkey has had a consulate general in Jerusalem since 1925, Xinhua wrote, which was closed for 12 years in protest of Israel’s 1980 declaration to designate Jerusalem as its capital.

Turkey reopened the Jerusalem consulate in 1992 and it has remained open ever since, Xinhua said.


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