The Republic of Turkey and Israel had only recently begun to repair political and economic connections after almost a decade of frozen ties.
The moves to draw closer were halted late last week as Turkish President Tayyip Erdoğan blasted Israel in a speech on Saturday, where he praised the Palestinians in Gaza, called Hamas “freedom fighters” and labeled Israel a “war criminal.”
Erdoğan, often considered to have a neo-Ottoman political philosophy, described Gaza as “part of our homeland.”
“Gaza was an inseparable part of our homeland in the past. Our hearts are wrenching for what is happening in Gaza,” Erdoğan said. Several times during his speech, he referred to the historical borders of the Ottoman Empire and appeared to indicate willingness to join Hamas' struggle.
"We are such a great nation and state that our strength, our problem, our struggle is not only limited to our borders."
In the same speech, Erdoğan appeared to threaten Israel, saying, “From now on, we will continue on our path with the motto that we may suddenly knock on your door one night.”
Following the Turkish leader's speech, Israel announced that it was ordering all of it diplomatic representatives to return to Israel, and said it would be reevaluating its relationship with Turkey.
“Given the grave statements coming from Turkey, I have ordered the return of diplomatic representatives there in order to conduct a reevaluation of the relations between Israel and Turkey,” Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen wrote on X on Saturday.
Under Erdoğan, Turkey has consistently supported Hamas, providing them with Turkish passports and allowing Hamas leaders living outside Gaza to stay in the country.
Erdoğan has also repeatedly rejected calls by Israel to close Hamas offices and operations in the Turkey.
Some analysts have indicated that Erdoğan’s support for Palestinians is an attempt to maintain a popular image in the country.
Erdoğan won the recent reelection in Turkey, however, a large contingent of the population has not been pleased with his leadership, especially as economic woes continue.
Asli Aydintasbas, a visiting fellow at the Washington-based Brookings Institution, told Reuters that “the pro-Palestinian rally is likely to overshadow celebrations for the centennial of the secular republic.”
The 100-year anniversary of the Turkish Republic took place Sunday, attended by a smaller crowds than the rally for Gaza.
Aydintasbas also said that Erdoğan’s comments about Hamas, while representing his long-held position, were meant to "consolidate Turkey's Sunni conservatives” and take advantage of widespread anti-Israel sentiment in the country.
The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.