October 30, 2023 | Flash Brief

Israel to Reevaluate Diplomatic Relationship with Turkey After Erdogan’s Threats

October 30, 2023 | Flash Brief

Israel to Reevaluate Diplomatic Relationship with Turkey After Erdogan’s Threats

Latest Developments

Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen stated on October 28 that he “ordered the return of diplomatic representatives” from Ankara “in order to conduct a reevaluation of the relations between Israel and Turkey.” The announcement came on the same day as a harsh anti-Israel speech by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Addressing hundreds of thousands of his supporters at a rally in Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport, Erdogan called Israel’s actions in the Gaza Strip a “massacre.” Erdogan said that Turkey, a NATO member, is preparing to “tell the whole world that Israel is a war criminal.” He also appeared to threaten military action against Israel, saying that Turkey can “come at any night unexpectedly.”

Expert Analysis

“Since the October 7 terror attacks, Israel has exercised restraint, time after time, following Erdogan’s vile remarks and characterization of Hamas as a ‘group of mujahideen resistance fighters.’ Ankara’s full-court press support for Hamas could result in Israel terminating its diplomatic relations. Turkey continues to be a frontline state that provides both rhetorical and material support to Hamas and its operatives.” Sinan Ciddi, FDD Senior Fellow

“This is a sad moment, but it is also entirely predictable. Turkey has repeatedly engaged in behavior that has directly threatened Israel through its support of Hamas as well as the Islamic Republic of Iran. Erdogan has never been forced to pay a price for his malign behavior. The West should now consider more punitive actions to hold Turkey to account.” Jonathan Schanzer, FDD Senior Vice President for Research

Erdogan’s Growing Anti-Israel Rhetoric

On October 10, Erdogan called Israel’s airstrikes in Gaza “disproportionate” and “devoid of any ethical foundation.” On the same day, Erdogan also criticized a decision by the United States to relocate a carrier strike group to the Eastern Mediterranean, falsely alleging that the United States plans to “carry out very serious massacres by striking all of Gaza.” On October 25, Erdogan said that Hamas was not a terrorist organization but constitutes “mujahideen” — the Arabic word for individuals who fight for their faith — and freedom fighters. Erdogan also canceled an upcoming visit to Israel.

Erdogan Backs Away from Israel, Supports Hamas

Erdogan met with Israeli President Isaac Herzog in March 2022 and called the meeting a “turning point in relations between Turkey and Israel.” In September 2022, the Israeli-Turkish relationship appeared to improve further when both nations reestablished diplomatic ties after a 14-year hiatus.

Despite the rapprochement, Ankara has continued to harbor Hamas’ top leadership in Turkey and provide the organization with material support. Hamas’ leaders, including Khaled Mashal, Ismail Haniyeh, and Saleh al-Arouri, have openly met with Erdogan many times, including in July and October this year. Ankara has provided Arouri and Haniyeh with residency and Turkish passports, which have allowed them to travel internationally unhindered. Arouri, Hamas’ West Bank chief, is a U.S.-designated terrorist with a $5 million bounty on his head.

Turkey at 100: Under the Grip of Authoritarian Nationalism,” FDD Event

Erdogan’s Damning Response to the Hamas Attacks,” by Sinan Ciddi

What does Turkey’s Erdogan want with Israel?” by Sinan Ciddi


Israel Israel at War Turkey