On Saturday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who is known for his historical antagonism towards Israel, said that Turkey must accept that it needs the Jewish state.
Erdogan, whose relations with the Israel have been rocky since 2010’s Gaza flotilla incident, said in remarks to Turkish reporters, “Israel is in need of a country like Turkey in the region,” adding, “And we too must accept that we need Israel. This is a reality in the region.”
Recently, Turkey and Israel have taken steps towards reconciliation, based on certain conditions laid out by each side. Turkey has asked for a lifting of the Gaza blockade, compensation for the nine flotilla victims, and an apology over the incident. Israel requested that Turkey halt the activities of Hamas terrorist Saleh al-Arouri, who is suspected to be active in the country, and bar him from entering Turkey.
For its part, Israel has already apologized over the flotilla incident, and negotiations over compensation have reportedly made progress, but the blockade on the Gaza Strip remains an obstacle, as Israel has indicated that it has no intention of lifting it.
However, Erdogan said that the two countries have discussed possible compromises, such as Israel allowing goods and construction materials into Gaza if they are sent via Turkey.
Even as the countries move towards normalization of ties, Erdogan has continued to evince signs of his anti-Semitic views. On Friday, Erdogan, who in 2013 placed second on the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s annual list of top ten anti-Semitic and anti-Zionist acts, expressed admiration for Adolf Hitler’s mode of government.
In the assertion, made on the day preceding his reconciliatory remarks towards Israel, Erdogan said that maintaining a unitary state with an executive presidential system, as Erdogan hopes to do in Turkey, was possible. “There are already examples in the world. You can see it when you look at Hitler’s Germany,” he said, according to Turkish media.
The Turkish presidency quickly walked back the comment on Friday night, clarifying that Erdogan had not meant to suggest that Nazi Germany was a good example of an effective governing system, but only to demonstrate a point.