Türkiye-Israel relations are increasingly strained on December 2 after Turkish Foreign Ministry issued a statement as a response to Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen’s social media post directly addressing President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan who reiterated his previous statement that he does not regard Hamas as a terrorist organisation.
Spokesperson of Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Öncü Keçeli, has issued a statement titled: “Response to a Question Regarding a Social Media Message Posted by the Israeli Foreign Minister” on December 2, after Israeli Minster Cohen’s social media post.
“Brute force against an entire civilian population by an occupying power cannot be legitimized as self-defense,” Keçeli said.
“As the history of the conflict shows, the more Israel oppresses Palestinians and destroys their basic freedoms, the more resistance it will face as many more Palestinians will continue to seek the realization of their collective and individual rights. At the core of the current problem lies Israeli occupation, as well as its expansionist mentality and repressive actions that completely ignores law, human rights and universal principles,” the statement read.
Israeli Minister “You are welcome to host Hamas terrorists”
The message came hours after Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen posted a social media message on his X account on December 2, directly addressing the Turkish Presidency and President Erdoğan.
“You (trpresidency) are welcome to host in your country Hamas terrorists who aren’t eliminated and flee from Gaza,” the post read.
“The Hamas-ISIS terrorist organization will not exist in Gaza on the day after. We will free Gaza from Hamas, for the sake of Israel’s security and to create a better future for the residents of the region,” the post added.
The Hamas-ISIS terrorist organization will not exist in Gaza on the day after.
We will free Gaza from Hamas, for the sake of Israel's security and to create a better future for the residents of the region.
You @trpresidency are welcome to host in your country Hamas terrorists…
— אלי כהן | Eli Cohen (@elicoh1) December 2, 2023
His post came after President Erdoğan reiterated his statement that he does not regard Hamas as a terrorist organisation adding that “destruction of Hamas is not a realistic scenario,” and plausible strategy lies in two-state solution.
Erdoğan has already draw international attention by using the term “the butcher of Gaza” for Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu last week.
Erdoğan: “The destruction of Hamas is not a realistic scenario”
Answering reporters’ questions on his flight back to Türkiye on December 1 after attending the United Nations (UN) World Summit on Climate Action, Erdoğan accused Israel of “creating state terrorism” and argued that “the destruction of Hamas is not a realistic scenario.”
“The situation that has come as a result of Israel’s lawless approach has once again shown that we were right in our concerns. There was an opportunity for peace here and unfortunately we have lost this opportunity for now with Israel’s uncompromising approach,” Erdoğan said, adding that Ankara would not stop its diplomatic efforts to establish a lasting peace.
Stating that the work started after the decision taken at the Riyadh Summit of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, Erdoğan continued his words as follows:
“The Western countries that support Israel, especially the United States and the United Kingdom, are constantly raising the question of ‘What are we going to do about the Hamas threat?’ rather than a two-state solution based on Israel’s war assessment, both in front of us and the world public opinion. We say, ‘If we put the two-state solution at the center right now, the issues of Gaza and mutual threats will already disappear. We need to deal with this from here. The exclusion of Hamas, the destruction of Hamas is not a realistic scenario.’ They are affected by this and the pressure on Israel is increasing.”
Responding to a question about the application made by the Palestinians to the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Erdoğan said, “Our expectation from there is that these genocidaires, these butchers of Gaza who were caught red-handed, especially Netanyahu, will receive the necessary punishment,” reiterating his previous statements.
“We want all Israeli officials who had a part in this genocide to be tried and punished,” Erdoğan said.
US Undersecretary of the Treasury Brian Nelson, who was in Ankara the previous day, said that they were “profoundly concerned” about Türkiye’s role in “facilitating Hamas’s access to international finance.”
“We are deeply concerned that Hamas may continue to raise money for future terrorist attacks or to fund its operations in Turkey,” he said.
Responding to a question on Nelson’s comments, Erdoğan said, “When I first traveled to America 20 years ago, I was asked about Hamas. I said, ‘Hamas is not a terrorist organization. They are just people who continue their struggle in a handful of lands they have been able to hold from 1947 until now.’ I am in the same place now. I can never accept Hamas as a terrorist organization, no matter what anyone says. I cannot describe it as such. You cannot expect us to interpret Hamas in this way while you reward the PKK, YPG, FETÖ and even host them in the Oval Office. I cannot reconcile this with neither my faith nor my conscience.”