A public rally being held in İstanbul today upon a call from Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to condemn the violence that erupted after the opening of the US Embassy in Jerusalem is not being held for Jerusalem but to attract support for Erdoğan in upcoming elections, according to the wife of one of the victims of an Israeli attack on an aid ship in 2010.
In a message from her Twitter account on Thursday evening, Çiğdem Topçuoğlu, whose husband Çetin is one of 10 activists who died in the Israeli attack on the Mavi Marmara while in international waters on its way to take humanitarian aid to Gaza on May 31, 2010, wrote: “If the agreements made with Israel are not terminated, if the Mavi Marmara deal [with Israel] is not cancelled, if the commercial relations with Israel are not cut off, if [Turkish] troops are sent to Qatar but not to Jerusalem, the rally that will be held on Friday is not for Jerusalem but for the elections.”
Turkey will hold snap parliamentary and presidential elections on June 24. President Erdoğan is his ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) presidential candidate.
The “Condemnation of Oppression, Support to Jerusalem” rally was called by the AKP and supported by its election partner, the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP).
Israeli forces killed at least 60 Palestinians on May 14 who protested against the US moving its embassy to Jerusalem. Turkish officials have condemned Israel for the incident, and the country has recalled its envoys to Washington DC and Tel Aviv for consultations.
Turkey and Israel, whose diplomatic relations were suspended after the Mavi Marmara attack, normalized relations in August 2016 after the Turkish Parliament approved a deal for Israel to pay compensation to victims of the attack.
Parliament in August 2016 approved a bill that instructed Israel to pay $20 million to the families as part of a normalization agreement between the two countries struck in July 2016 after a six-year freeze in relations.
In September 2016, Israel deposited $20 million in the account of the Turkish Ministry of Justice as compensation for victims of the Mavi Marmara flotilla.
Following this week’s incidents, a motion proposing the annulment of economic, military and political agreements between Turkey and Israel was voted down by President Erdoğan’s AKP and the MHP in Parliament. The motion was submitted by the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP).
Turkey sent troops to Qatar last year showcasing a strategic alliance between the two nations amid a Gulf crisis that erupted after several Arab countries cut ties with Qatar and accused it of financially supporting terror groups.