The Israeli Foreign Minister, Eli Cohen, announced this Saturday the withdrawal of his country’s diplomatic representatives from Ankara – including ambassador Irit Lillian -, in apparent reaction to a fiery speech by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who compared the Israeli bombings of Gaza to the Holocaust.
“Views serious statements that arrive from Türkiye, I have ordered the return of the diplomatic representatives there to carry out a reassessment of relations between Israel and Turkey,” Cohen wrote on the X network, formerly Twitter.
A few hours earlier this Saturday, Erdogan had compared in a speech to a huge crowd gathered in Istanbul the Israeli bombings on Gaza with the Jewish Holocaust and the atomic bombs of World War II, attributing everything to the “Western” mentality.
“What they know how to do well is kill. They annihilated the Jews in the gas chambers, they erased cities from the map with their inhabitants inside with atomic bombs. We see the same mentality today in Gaza,” the Turkish president said at the demonstration.
Last Tuesday, Erdogan had declared that Hamasthe Islamist organization that dominates Gaza and that three weeks ago launched an attack against Israel, killing more than 1,400 people, the vast majority civilians, “It is not a terrorist organization but a group of freedom fighters.”
Today, he also complained that the Turkish opposition considers Hamas “just as terrorist as (Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin) Netanyahu,” in his opinion an “unfortunate” position.
It has been barely a year since Israel and Türkiye exchanged ambassadors, after five years of tensionthus initiating a reconciliation that culminated in the visit of Israeli President Isaac Herzog to Ankara last March, while both a visit by Netanyahu to Turkey and one by Erdogan to Israel were planned for the future.
But Erdogan announced last Tuesday that he had ruled out this plan and in recent days he has raised the tone of his criticism of Israel.
According to the Hebrew press, Israeli diplomatic representatives in Turkey already returned to their country last Thursday for security reasons, but it was then a “temporary measure”, while Cohen’s message carries a diplomatic message of rupture.
(With information from EFE)