Israel will not lift the blockade on Gaza despite Turkish demands, diplomatic sources in Jerusalem say.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced on Tuesday at a press conference in Istanbul that there can be no reconciliation with Jerusalem “as long as the siege on Gaza is not lifted.”
“The siege must be lifted and that must be part of the protocol, signed and agreed upon,” Erdogan stated.
Israel maintains that the blockade is a fundamental national security issue.
Since Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza in 2005 and the takeover of the area by the Hamas terror group, southern Israel has been continuously bombarded with rockets and missiles.
Reports in various media in recent weeks have pointed to an imminent agreement between Israel and Turkey that would include compensation payments to families of Turkish citizens killed on the Mava Marmara flotilla in 2010, which attempted to break the blockade of Gaza; while claiming to be on a humanitarian mission, they were carrying weapons and violently attacked IDF soldiers who had boarded the ship. Nine anti-Israel activists died in the incident.
Soon after, Turkey demanded an apology from Israel and compensation payment in order to renew ties between the two countries.
“But in July of 2011,” the Jerusalem Post explains, “Erdogan – who gained a great deal of esteem in the Arab world for being seen as the ‘champion’ of Gaza – added another condition for the normalization of ties, during a speech he delivered to the Turkish parliament: that Israel lift the blockade of Gaza.
“Then, as now,” the Post continues, “the demand left a feeling among some in Jerusalem that Erdogan was not interested in bringing this issue to closure, knowing full well that Jerusalem would not let a third party dictate to it what was necessary for its security.”
At the Knesset yesterday, EU Chair Martin Shulz angered Israeli parliamentarians by demanding that Israel lift the blockade on Gaza.
Feb. 13, 2014