Erdogan rhetoric against Israel, U.S unhelpful to Palestinian cause - former minister

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s rhetoric against Israel amid the recent conflict in Gaza has not been helpful to the Palestinian cause, said former Turkish foreign minister Yasar Yakis. 

In a column with Arab News on Monday, Yakis writes that rather than advance the cause of protecting Palestinian rights and lives, Erdogan’s harsh statements hurt these efforts. In particular, Yakis was critical of Erdogan for specific remarks made against Israel, but also those directed at United States President Joe Biden.

“This harsh narrative was the last thing needed,” wrote Yakis. “Turkey has to use extremely delicate diplomacy to return its relations with the US to a semblance of normality.”

From the start of the 11-day conflict, Erdogan was quick to condemn the Israeli treatment of Palestinian protestors in East Jerusalem and the subsequent bombing campaign against the Gaza Strip. After Israeli forces stormed Al-Aqsa mosque on May 8, Erdogan attacked Israel as a ‘terrorist state” and called on the international community to hold Israel accountable. 

On May 17, Erdogan criticised President Biden for his administration’s support for Israel’s right to defend itself and its approval of a $735 million weapon deal to Israel. He accused Biden of “writing history with blood on your hands.” 

The hostilities in Gaza came to an end with a U.S-Egypt brokered ceasefire that came into effect on May 21. U.S Secretary of State Antony Blinken embarked on a trip to the Middle East on Monday to try strengthen what is considered a fragile truce between the Israelis and Palestinians.