Thousands of Turks in Istanbul demonstrate in solidarity with the Palestinian people and Gaza (French)

Istanbul -

The Turkish arena witnessed an escalation in the intensity of criticism directed at the government, as several political parties and humanitarian organizations organized sit-ins and protests, demanding an immediate suspension of the export of goods to Israel.

This is a reaction to the crisis situation in the Gaza Strip, which was directly reflected in the Turkish street, where citizens took a bold step by blocking Labor Minister Widad Isik Han last week, demanding the severing of trade relations with Israel and calling for the closure of the ports to its ships as a pressure measure. .

A group of citizens also organized a demonstration in front of the headquarters of Zorlu Holding, which is one of the most prominent investment companies in Turkey working in the field of energy with a strong presence in Israel, and whose investments there are estimated at more than one billion dollars.

The Turks called on their government to take strict measures against this company, and called for its closure or pressure on it to cut off its commercial relations with Israel.

The Turkish Minister of Labor is rebuked by angry citizens in Bursa: Gaza is hungry and you are sending ships to “Israel”. Stop dirty trade.

- Amani.. (@AmSenwar) March 1, 2024

Political recruitment

Politically, trade relations between Turkey and Israel are witnessing extensive use as a tool in internal dispute, especially with the approaching date of the local elections scheduled for next March 31.

The opposition takes this file as a starting point to criticize the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and considers it a means to undermine “the government’s exploitation of the Palestinian issue as a trump card in internal politics.”

For its part, the government did not show much response to these accusations, as the reaction of the relevant ministries was limited to statements indicating a decline in the pace of trade with Israel, without delving into an in-depth debate about the issue.

The Ministry of Commerce recently denied news reported by some media outlets regarding an increase in exports to Israel at the beginning of this year.

She explained that trade relations with Tel Aviv "are not limited to Jewish areas only, but also include 2.2 million Palestinians living inside Israel, in addition to residents of the occupied West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip."

She added, "All goods sent to the Palestinian areas must pass through Israeli customs points and ports and be registered under the name of Israel."

Trade Minister Omer Polat said, in an interview with Al Jazeera Net, that from October 7 to December 4, trade between Ankara and Tel Aviv decreased by more than 50%, and that this decline continues.

Tension and decline

According to data issued by the Turkish Statistics Authority, exports to Israel declined from $489 million in October 2022 to $348 million in October 2023, and imports from Israel declined during the same period from $241 million to $99 million.

Official data issued by the Turkish Ministry of Transport showed that since October 7, 701 Turkish ships have headed towards Israel, with an average of 8 ships per day.

Of this number, 480 ships were moving directly between Ankara and Israel, while 221 ships crossed through Turkey to Israel, representing a 30% decrease in the total volume of ships heading to Israeli ports compared to the previous year.

The aggression against Gaza, and the tension it generated in bilateral relations, was accompanied by mutual popular boycott campaigns that led to a decline in trade exchange between them - the period between October 7 and December 31, 2023 - to about 1.3 billion dollars, a decline of 45% compared to The year is 2022.

By the end of last November, Israeli media reports revealed that Turkey had excluded Israel from the list of countries targeted for export, indicating that Turkish support for companies that conduct business dealings with Tel Aviv may stop.

A massive demonstration at the Galata Bridge to protest the aggression against Gaza (French)

Cut the relationships

According to statistical data issued by the Turkish Statistical Authority, Israel ranked 13th on the list of countries that import Turkish products most during the year 2023, accounting for 2.1% of total Turkish exports.

In its last update last February, the Turkish Exporters Association announced a remarkable growth in the volume of exports to Israel, as the announced data showed an increase of 26% compared to last January, rising from 318 to 400 million dollars.

Since the beginning of this year, fruits, iron, and chemicals have been major commodities on the list of Turkish exports to Israel, which witnessed the highest export rates.

In his statements to Al Jazeera Net, Mahmoud Shaheen, Vice President of the Hoda Bar Party, said that Islamic countries, including Turkey, must unite on a common political basis and decide collectively to impose sanctions and suspend all levels of relations with Israel.

Shaheen expressed his regret that the Turkish government continues its relations with Israel despite the starvation policy pursued by the occupation against the Palestinians.

He affirmed his party's position, which believes that Turkey must stop importing and exporting with Israel immediately, considering the latter a "terrorist network" that should not be dealt with diplomatically in the international arena.

He stressed that his party's position against the Israeli occupation is clear and relates to the principles of Islam, and that he is committed to continuing pressure from all sides until all trade relations with Israel are severed.

Shaheen also pointed out that the Turkish government has not yet taken concrete steps to suspend trade relations and agreements with Israel, expressing his disappointment at the failure to respond to his party’s calls in this regard.

The Vice Chairman of the Hoda Bar Party added that the continuation of commercial shipments from Turkey to Israel is unacceptable, stressing the need to end this trade as soon as possible.

Source: Al Jazeera