Turkey cuts trade ties with Israel / Al-MONITOR

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In a dramatic escalation in the simmering Turkish-Israeli diplomatic row, Ankara announced Thursday that it was severing trade ties with the Jewish state, ending 75 years of commercial relations, Ezgi Akin and Rina Bassist report.

Al-Monitor Daily Briefing, May 4, 2024

Why it matters:

Despite the poor state of bilateral ties over the past 15 years, largely over the Palestinian issue, trade relations between Turkey and Israel had been left untouched, as both sides had much to lose by cutting the flow of imports and exports. In 2022, Ankara exported $7 billion worth of goods to Israel, while importing $2.3 billion in products — suggesting that Turkey has more to lose from halting trade. During the past three decades, Turkish exports to Israel have increased at an average annual rate of 12.5%, with metals, used for massive building projects across Israeli cities, leading all other Turkish exports to Israel.

Why now?

As Al-Monitor reporters Ezgi Akin and Amberin Zaman have reported in recent weeks, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has come under mounting domestic pressure to respond more forcefully to Israel’s war in Gaza. While Erdogan paid lip service to these demands — calling Hamas a liberation group and comparing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to Adolf Hitler — his party suffered a colossal defeat in nationwide local elections on March 31, with some of its strongholds going to the Islamist New Welfare Party, which had made an issue of ending trade ties with Israel.

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The Gaza situation is not the only or main reason for Erdogan hemorrhaging support in recent months. After years of economic mismanagement rooted in Erdogan’s refusal to raise interest rates to curb runaway inflation, Turkey’s economy lies in shambles, with monthly inflation reaching 70% in April, Ezgi reported today.


Erdogan is hoping he can make up for lost ground by appealing to conservative voters’ strong pro-Palestinian sentiment, but in cutting trade ties with the region’s third largest economy, he will no doubt inflict further damage on Turkey’s struggling economy.

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