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Turkey cuts all trade with Israel as ties fray

The Israeli Foreign Minister said Ankara was blocking Turkey’s ports for Israeli imports and exports.
YASIN AKGUL/AFP via Getty Images

ANKARA — Turkey moved to suspend all trade ties with Israel, the Turkish Trade Ministry announced on Thursday. 

The ministry said the decision marks the second phase of the measure, which Turkey launched in April by imposing a series of export restrictions in its trade with Israel.

“The Israeli government continues its aggressive attitude, and the humanitarian tragedy in Palestine is worsening, as per observed,” the official statement said.

“All export and import transactions concerning Israel have been halted, covering all products. Turkey will strictly and decisively implement the new measures until the Israeli government allows an uninterrupted and sufficient flow of humanitarian aid to Gaza,” the late-night statement added.

The ministry added that it was working with its counterpart within the Palestinian Authority to ensure that Palestinians living in occupied West Bank are not affected by the halt. The move was first reported by Bloomberg earlier in the day.

Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz separately said that Ankara had also started to block Israeli imports and exports at Turkish ports. 

“This is how a dictator behaves, disregarding the interests of the Turkish people and businessmen, and ignoring international trade agreements,” Katz wrote on social media platform X.

Accusing Turkey of breaking trade agreements, Katz said he instructed the Israeli Foreign Ministry to pursue alternatives for trade, focusing on “local production and imports from other countries.” 

The Israeli Foreign Ministry hasn’t clarified, as of this writing, which ports have been blocked and whether Turkey’s move also involves third-country trade with Israel.

Azerbaijani oil exports to Israel through Turkey’s Mediterranean port of Ceyhan came under scrutiny in Turkey amid public anger over the war in Gaza.

The Israeli Foreign Ministry is currently verifying the economic implications of a Turkish decision to stop the exports, a diplomatic source told Al-Monitor.

Israeli traders have already begun facing difficulty with their shipments to and from Israel, Israeli media outlets reported earlier Thursday.

Turkey imposed trade restrictions on 54 product groups in April, a move widely believed to be in response to domestic pressure for the suspension of trade ties with the country amid the rising humanitarian toll in Gaza. But April’s restriction didn’t affect Turkey’s imports from Israel.

The two countries’ bilateral trade volume stood at $5.4 billion last year, according to official data.

Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan announced on Wednesday that his country would also join South Africa’s case against Israel at the International Court of Justice as the UN court assesses South Africa's claims that Israeli actions are in breach of the 1948 UN Genocide Convention. 

Along with his attacks on Israel, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has also dialed up his criticism of the Biden administration’s support of the Jewish state over the past week.

“Compassionate students, academics at American universities, including anti-Zionist Jews, are speaking up against the massacre,” Erdogan said in Ankara on Thurday, adding, “These people are subjected to violence, cruelty, oppression and even torture because they simply say ’the massacre in Gaza should stop.’”

The Turkish President’s visit to the White House, which had been planned to take place on May 9, was postponed last week, for which the officials from both countries cited a scheduling conflict.

This developing story has been updated since initial publication.