Turkey suspends energy talks with Israel until Gaza ceasefire: minister
Turkey will not engage in energy talks with Israel until a ceasefire is implemented in Gaza, the Turkish energy minister said, adding that the only focus should be on restoring Gaza's electricity.
Alparslan Bayraktar, Minister of Energy and Natural Resources, said that Israel's assault on Gaza has impacted the oil and gas talks between Turkey and Israel, which have long sought to improve fragile relations.
"In an environment of such great brutality and human tragedy, it would be disrespectful to humanity and to our brothers and sisters there [in the Palestinian Territories] to talk about any project,” Bayraktar said, according to Turkish news channel NTV.
Turkey and Israel had been in discussions in September to cooperate in energy drilling operations and networks to Europe through Turkey, with President Tayyip Erdogan and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meeting for the first time at the UN in New York.
But the humanitarian catastrophe that erupted in Gaza from Israel’s month-long bombardment has cast doubt over the two countries’ relations which have been historically dogged by disagreements over Turkey’s pro-Palestinian stance.
Ankara has stepped up its criticism of Israel in the wake of the conflict and last week recalled its ambassador over Israel’s rejection of ceasefire calls.
Israel has used tons of explosives and white phosphorus in its military campaign on Gaza, which could amount to war crimes https://t.co/LF1fC0WXbT— The New Arab (@The_NewArab) November 8, 2023
The energy minister added that Turkey has sent generators for use in the Gaza Strip which are currently being held at the Rafah crossing.
"The only thing we will talk about at this time is how we can meet Gaza’s electricity, water, and food needs," Bayraktar said.
"Without a ceasefire, is it impossible to talk about anything," he added.
Meanwhile, Turkey’s Trade Minister Omer Bolate said on Tuesday that trade between Israel and Turkey had dropped by 50 percent since the start of the conflict on Oct. 7, Turkish state broadcaster TRT Haber reported.
There have been growing calls in Turkey for boycotts and economic penalties against Israeli businesses.
On Tuesday, Turkey’s parliament announced that it would stop selling Israeli products in its restaurants and cafes, according to Birgun newspaper.
The report quoted the parliament as saying products made by companies which "support Israel’s genocide in Gaza" will not be sold on its premises, without specifying them.
The decision was reportedly taken by Parliament Speaker Numan Kurtulmus to "support public sensitivity regarding boycotting products of companies which have openly declared their support for Israel's war crimes [and] killing of innocent people in Gaza".
An earlier report by T24 news site had said beverages made by Coca-Cola and Nestle were removed from menus in restaurants and cafes inside the parliament.