Turkey Halts Trade With Israel Amid Deteriorating Relations

Turkey said late Thursday that it had halted all trade with Israel until “uninterrupted and adequate humanitarian aid is allowed into Gaza,” signaling further deterioration in relations between the two countries.

Turkey’s Trade Ministry said in a statement that exports and imports “for all products” would pause. On Friday, the trade minister, Omer Bolat, said that the suspension would remain in place until Israel’s bombardment of Gaza stops.

“Until a permanent cease-fire is established and uninterrupted humanitarian aid is allowed into Gaza, suspension of trade with Israel will be implemented for all imports and exports,” Mr. Bolat said at a news conference to announce monthly trade figures.

The move, which was initially reported by Bloomberg, prompted the Israeli foreign minister, Israel Katz, to lash out at Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

“This is how a dictator behaves, disregarding the interests of the Turkish people and businessmen, and ignoring international trade agreements,” Mr. Katz said in a post on social media. Mr. Katz added that he had instructed the Foreign Ministry to create alternatives to trading with Turkey, focusing on local production and imports from other countries.

Turkey reported $5.4 billion in exports to Israel in 2023 and $1.64 billion in imports, according to United Nations figures.

Mr. Erdogan did not comment publicly on any changes in Turkey’s trade ties with Israel. But the Turkish leader has strongly criticized Israel’s bombardment of Gaza, which began after Hamas led an Oct. 7 attack into Israel that killed about 1,200 people and led to the abduction of about 240 others. More than 34,000 Palestinians have been killed amid Israel’s bombardment of the territory, according to health officials in the territory.

The Turkish leader has also forcefully defended Hamas and recently met with Ismail Haniyeh, the group’s political leader, and other Hamas officials in Istanbul on April 20. Mr. Erdogan told reporters then, “Israel will certainly pay the price of the atrocities it has been inflicting on Palestinians one day.”

The decision by Turkey to halt trade came after its Trade Ministry imposed export restrictions on Israel on April 9 in 54 product groups, including cement and jet fuel, and said they would remain in force until “Israel declares an immediate cease-fire in Gaza.”

The Trade Ministry defined Thursday’s suspension as “the second step in intergovernmental measures” and cited “worsening humanitarian tragedy in Palestine.”

The Turkish foreign minister, Hakan Fidan, also announced on Wednesday that Turkey would join South Africa’s genocide case against Israel at the International Court of Justice. In a preliminary decision in January, the court ordered Israel to ensure that its forces were not committing genocide in Gaza.

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