Turkey halts trade with Israel

Turkey has halted all commercial interactions and trade with Israel, attributing the decision to Israel’s military actions in Gaza, which Turkey describes as exacerbating the humanitarian crisis there. The Turkish government announced that this suspension would persist until Israel ensures a continuous and adequate provision of humanitarian aid into Gaza. Trade between the two nations reached nearly $7 billion last year.

Israel’s Foreign Minister, Israel Katz, criticized Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, labeling him as behaving like a “dictator.” Katz expressed that Erdogan was neglecting the welfare of Turkish citizens and business interests by ignoring international trade norms. He also mentioned that he has directed the Israeli foreign ministry to explore alternative trading partners and increase local production and imports from other countries.

Turkey’s trade suspension applies to all products, with a firm commitment to enforcing these restrictions until Israel meets the conditions set by Turkey regarding aid to Gaza.

Historically, Turkey was the first Muslim-majority country to recognize Israel in 1949, but diplomatic relations have seen significant tensions over the years. A notable low point occurred in 2010 when Turkey severed diplomatic ties following an incident where Israeli commandos killed ten Turkish activists aboard a ship attempting to breach the maritime blockade on Gaza. Though diplomatic relations were temporarily restored in 2016, they deteriorated again in 2018 over disputes related to Israel’s actions during protests along the Gaza-Israel border.

The situation in Gaza has drawn international scrutiny, with a recent UN-backed assessment indicating that over a million people there are on the brink of famine, primarily in northern Gaza. This situation has prompted the U.S. to set up a temporary pier to facilitate aid delivery, although the UN emphasizes that land routes remain essential for substantial aid delivery.

Despite reopening the Erez Crossing for aid convoys following international pressure, challenges persist, such as attacks on Jordanian aid trucks by Israeli settlers. The UN’s top human rights official, Volker Türk, has suggested that there is a credible argument that Israel is using starvation as a warfare tactic in Gaza, a claim Israel denies.

The ongoing conflict, which escalated following a deadly attack by Hamas on southern Israel on October 7, has resulted in substantial casualties and has drawn international calls for a ceasefire, including from U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken. Blinken has stated that a ceasefire deal is imminent, pending Hamas’s agreement to the proposed terms, which include a 40-day ceasefire and a significant prisoner exchange involving the release of over 30 Israeli hostages.

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