EFor the first time since the beginning of the Gaza war, Turkey is restricting trade with Israel. The Ministry of Trade in Ankara said on Wednesday that goods such as steel, cement and fertilizer would only be allowed to be exported to the country again if Israel announced a ceasefire and allowed enough aid deliveries to the Gaza Strip. In total, more than 50 product groups are subject to the ban. The ministry clarified that Turkey has long stopped issuing export permits for goods that Israel could use for military purposes.

Friederike Böge

Political correspondent for Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan based in Ankara.

With the trade restrictions, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is drawing the first conclusions from the defeat of his Justice and Development Party (AKP) in the recent local elections. The Islamist New Welfare Party won six percent of the vote by criticizing Erdoğan's Israel policy, among other things. Party leader Fatih Erbakan accused the president of hypocrisy because he profiled himself as a critic of Israel but was not prepared to impose economic sanctions.

The government was also damaged by reports that people close to Erdoğan and his coalition partner MHP were directly involved in trade with Israel. In addition, the opposition Republican People's Party (CHP), which emerged victorious in the local elections, is putting the president in trouble with demands for recognition of a Palestinian state.

Arrests during demonstration against Israel policy

Over the weekend, more than 40 mainly right-wing demonstrators were arrested in Istanbul during a demonstration against the government's Israel policy. The police operation was sharply criticized by opposition parties. In contrast to the arrests of left-wing demonstrators, the Interior Ministry was forced to review the police's actions. Two police officers were suspended from duty, according to Interior Minister Ali Yerlikaya.

The trade restrictions are apparently part of a more far-reaching package of measures. Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan announced “a series of new measures against Israel” on Tuesday evening, without naming them. In a statement to journalists scheduled at short notice, he said that “these measures approved by our President will be implemented step by step.” The details would be announced by the respective institutions. Fidan justified the measures by saying that Israel had rejected Turkish aid deliveries for Gaza from the air. “There can be no justification for Israel preventing airdrops of aid to starving Gaza,” Fidan said.

After the local elections, Erdoğan announced that his party would self-critically analyze the reasons for the defeat and correct its “mistakes”. According to Turkish media reports, in an internal party meeting he said that the party had to guard against the “disease of arrogance”. She has to learn to approach people again if she doesn't want to “melt like ice in the sun.”

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