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Turkey halts all trade with Israel over Gaza war

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan speaks during a joint statement to the media in Baghdad, Iraq April 22, 2024. (Photo: AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo)

Turkish officials announced on Thursday that the country intends to end all trade with Israel due to the ongoing Hamas-initiated war in Gaza.

Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz blasted the Turkish government’s decision to end its commercial ties with Jerusalem, saying that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has gone too far.

“Erdoğan crossed a line and blocked ports for Israeli exports and imports. This is how a dictator behaves – trampling on the interests of the Turkish people, businessmen and ignoring international trade agreements,” Katz said.

“I have instructed the Foreign Ministry Director-General to hold immediate discussions with all relevant parties to find alternative solutions for trade with Turkey. Israel has a strong economy and will emerge stronger from this. We win, and they lose,” Israel's foreign minister added.

Turkey is one of Israel's major trading partners, and there are concerns that Turkey's decision could lead to significant challenges for industry and trade in Israel. The volume of imports from Turkey currently amounts to about $5 billion a year.

According to reports, Turkey has stopped the exports of construction materials, machinery, cars, rubber, plastic, health and agricultural products, minerals, and energy products.

An official from Israel’s Economy Ministry said that Israel would have to replace imports from Turkey with those of friendlier nations.

“There will be an immediate need to find companies and factories that will export goods and raw materials to Israel. Apparently, some of these will be imported from friendly countries like Germany, Britain, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Greece,” the official said.

Israeli exports to Turkey, which amount to roughly $1.5 billion, are also expected to stop.

Israeli manufacturers criticized the government for not heeding their warning about the threat of boycotts.

On Thursday, Ron Tomer, the president of the Manufacturers Association of Israel, said, “Over a month ago, we asked the Finance and Economy ministries to respond to the threat and then implement a 100% tariff against Turkey to signal to Erdoğan and the world that Israel will not take a boycott quietly."

"Beyond the show of weakness and loss of national pride, we have lost an opportunity to send a message to anyone seeking to boycott us, that we will not accept it, and every move against us will be punished in return,” Tomer continued, saying that Israel would need to get tough with Turkey and other potential nations that decide to boycott of the Jewish state.

“We need to impose 100% protective tariffs for three years on all imports from Turkey and to completely ban certain imports from there. This is the only way Erdoğan will understand that he cannot play with us and that his move will bring a long-term response. This will also allow many local industries to invest and establish additional production bases in Israel to maintain industrial independence,” said Tomer.

Tomer argued that Israel needs to increase its domestic production of necessary goods to decrease its dependence on foreign supplies.

“It is also time to strengthen our industrial independence in the food and construction sectors. Israel should do its best to increase the volume of food and construction materials produced in Israel and be independent from Turkey.”

Other Israeli diplomats noted that Turkish traders will stand to lose the most by the boycott.

“It is a shame that the Turkish authorities do not maintain the tradition of keeping political and economic matters separate. The main losers of Erdoğan's actions are the Turkish traders and not the State of Israel. The Israeli economy is strong enough to find alternatives to imports from Turkey,” said Shachar Turgeman, committee chairman for the Advancement of the Retail Sector in the Federation of Israeli Chambers of Commerce.

Relations between Turkey and Israel have declined significantly since the Hamas attack on Oct. 7. Erdoğan has engaged in anti-Israel rhetoric and hosted Hamas leadership.

A month ago, the Turkish Trade Ministry announced it would impose trade restrictions upon Israel in 54 categories of various goods, including construction materials like cement and steel products.

On Wednesday, Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan announced that Turkey has decided to officially join South Africa's lawsuit against Israel at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) at The Hague. The lawsuit accuses Israel of committing genocide against the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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