Türkiye impose trade restrictions to Israel upon public pressure

The Ministry of Trade announced on April 9 that it would impose trade restrictions on Israel covering 54 product categories as public pressure compelled Erdoğan’s cabinet to take action. The decision came after a high-level meeting in the presidencial complex attended by Erdoğan and cabinet members as well as high officials responsible for Türkiye-Israel relations. Public pressure has compelled President Tayyip Erdoğan’s cabinet to take action on another front. The Ministry of Trade announced on April 9 that it would impose trade restrictions on Israel covering 54 product categories. The trade embargo, to be enforced by Ministry of Trade Ömer Bolat, will take effect from April 9 and will remain in place until Israel declares an immediate ceasefire in accordance with its international legal obligations and allows uninterrupted flow of humanitarian aid into the Gaza Strip.Among the newly prohibited products are items with potential military applications, including airplane fuel, jet fuel, pallets, construction machinery, cement, metal processing chemicals, chemical and mineral fertilizers, motor oils, steel profiles, aluminum profiles, fiber optic cables, and electrical conductors.The ministry statement also affirmed that sales of such products to Israel for military purposes have not occurred for a considerable period.Trade restriction after high-level meetingThis revelation confirms that there were no trade restrictions on Israel in these 54 product categories during the six months following Israel’s military operations in Gaza, which resulted in the deaths of more than 33,000 Palestinians after Hamas attacked Israel on October 7.The Ministry of Trade’s announcement on April 9th came after Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan stated on the evening of April 8, in an un-announced press conference where no questions were taken, that Israel had rejected Türkiye’s request to deliver aid to Gaza via airdrops through Jordan.Consequently, Türkiye decided to implement “new measures without delay” against Israel.According to information obtained by YetkinReport, the decisions announced by Fidan and the initial step taken by Bolat were made in a high-level meeting convened at the Presidential Complex in Ankara on the afternoon of April 8. The meeting, convened at the instruction of President Erdoğan and upon the call of Vice President Cevdet Yılmaz, was attended by officials from ministries and state institutions responsible for Türkiye-Israel relations. Other measures decided upon at the meeting were not disclosed.The Ministry of Trade’s decision to restrict trade with Israel received support from Volkan Demir, the Deputy Chairman responsible for trade policies of the main opposition party CHP. He stated that while they supported the decision, they found it belated and insufficient, and demanded a complete cessation of trade.Public pressure was influentialAlthough the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and other state organs have declared Türkiye as one of the two countries providing the most humanitarian aid to the besieged Palestinian people in Gaza (the other being the UAE), criticism and pressure from the public and opposition parties were not focused on “Why aren’t you providing humanitarian aid?” Public sentiment holds that it is already Türkiye’s duty to provide humanitarian aid to the besieged Palestinians in Gaza. The subject of criticism was why trade with Israel had not been severed.However, trade with Israel was highlighted by the opposition, especially by the Yeniden Refah Party, in the local elections on March 31, and became one of the factors, though not as significant as the economic crisis (manifested in retired pensions), contributing to some AKP voters abstaining from voting or vote for Yeniden Refah.Erdoğan, who announced that he would evaluate the Ramadan Bayram holiday with election accounting and a new strategy, appears to want to compensate for the damage suffered by the AKP regarding Gaza and Israel without further delay. It is evident that public pressure is effective not only in economic matters but also in this regard.A new Mavi Marmara concernThere may be other reasons prompting Ankara to take action on trade with Israel and increase humanitarian aid.Sources speaking to YetkinReport emphasize that the aid organization IHH (Humanitarian Relief Foundation) has expedited its activities under the name “Freedom Flotilla” to deliver aid to Gaza by sea, and underline that Ankara does not want to face a new Mavi Marmara incident like in 2010.Bülent Yıldırım, the head of IHH, said at a press conference jointly organized by “voluntary organizations” from Canada to Australia, South Africa to Norway before the elections.“We will break this embargo by air, land, and sea, God willing. (…) Civil society organizations step in where diplomacy ends. Ships will depart from America, Europe, and Türkiye. We are currently purchasing, and the number of ships will not be fewer than that of the Mavi Marmara,” Yıldırım said.Yıldırım also mentioned at the same meeting that the ships would set sail at the end of March, but there is no reported ship having set sail yet.In 2010, eight ships set sail towards Israel to break the embargo on Gaza organized by IHH, but the Mavi Marmara was raided by Israeli commandos in international waters on May 31st, resulting in the deaths of 10 volunteers.AKP-confidential: the ‘pirate text’ leaked after Erdoğan’s AKP meeting

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