News Analysis: Türkiye's export ban on Israel signals worsening bilateral ties, say experts-Xinhua

News Analysis: Türkiye's export ban on Israel signals worsening bilateral ties, say experts

Source: Xinhua

Editor: huaxia

2024-04-14 02:48:00

A cargo ship carrying humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip leaves a port of southern Mersin province, Türkiye, on March 7, 2024. (Mustafa Kaya/Handout via Xinhua)

by Burak Akinci

ANKARA, April 13 (Xinhua) -- Although Türkiye's recent ban on a long list of exports to Israel may have a limited impact on the economy, the move is a sign of worsening ties between the two regional players amid the Gaza crisis, experts have said.

On April 9, Ankara enacted new restrictions on exports to Israel, saying they would remain in effect until there is a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip.

The decision was made after Israel blocked Turkish military planes from dropping aid into Gaza.

Dozens of items are on Türkiye's embargo list, such as iron and steel products, aviation fuel, construction equipment, cement, and chemicals.

"The significance of Ankara's move is more political than economic," said Ali Oguz Dirioz, an associate professor of international relations at Ankara's TOBB University of Economics and Technology.

"Despite Ankara's ban ... trade is continuing between Türkiye and Israel," Dirioz said, explaining that food products and many other export items are not included in the boycott list, and Israel can still import Turkish products from third countries, bypassing Ankara's ban, albeit at a higher cost.

According to Dirioz, ever since Isreal waged its deadly military operation in Gaza, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been facing domestic criticism for continuing commercial ties with Israel, despite that Erdogan has been an outspoken critic of Israel's treatment of the Palestinians.

By announcing an export ban, the Turkish president aims to alleviate domestic criticism while "putting pressure on Israel to declare a ceasefire and inciting Western nations to take similar trade action," Dirioz said.

Notably, soon after Ankara enacted the export embargo, the Israeli Foreign Ministry warned in a statement that it would cast a shadow on relations between the two countries and that Israel would potentially impose similar restrictions on Turkish exports.

Over the past ten years, Türkiye and Israel have been trading barbs over the Palestinian issue. In the wake of the recent Israel-Hamas conflict, both nations recalled their ambassadors home.

For Ankara-based foreign policy analyst Tulin Daloglu, Türkiye's trade restrictions have added further strain to bilateral relations, and no improvement should be expected any time soon.

"After Oct. 7, ambassadors have been withdrawn, and political and diplomatic relations are almost non-existent," the expert told Xinhua.

Israel launched a large-scale offensive against Hamas in Gaza to retaliate against a Hamas rampage through southern Israel on Oct. 7, 2023, during which about 1,200 people were killed and more than 200 were taken hostage.

Due to Israel's assault on Iran's consulate in Syria earlier this month, for which Iran has vowed reprisal, the situation in the Middle East has grown more intricate.

The potential for the expansion of the ongoing conflict to Iran may further complicate the conundrum at hand, Daloglu pointed out.

"Let's first see how these rough seas will calm down. Only then, it will be time to rethink the Türkiye-Israel relations," she said.