Kahlon: Trade With Turkey Won’t Be Harmed By Current Crisis

Israeli Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Despite the diplomatic tit-for-tat between Israel and Turkey – in which both countries ejected diplomats and subjected them to “humiliations” on their way out of the respective countries – Israel and Turkey would maintain their economic ties, which were “important,” Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon said Thursday.

Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan “has internal problems, and he has an ongoing ritual” in turning on Israel when the pressure is on, Kahlon told Army Radio. “I wouldn’t want to think about what would happen if the Kurds were to cross his border,” said Kahlon, as that would generate an even more sharp response against Israel. “They have a very shallow way of conducting diplomacy there,” he added.

Turkey earlier this week sent Israel’s ambassador Eitan Naveh home, over what Ankara called Israel’s “massacre” of Gaza Arabs in riots on Monday. On Wednesday, Hamas admitted that the vast majority of the 62 killed in those riots were Hamas terrorists. Israel in response ordered the Turkish consul in Yerushalayim, Husnu Gurcan Turkoglu, to return to Turkey. Both diplomats were held up at the airports of each respective country, and Erdogan and Israeli leader Binyamin Netanyahu have been engaging in mutual insults on social media and in speeches.

Despite ups and downs in their relationship since the 2010 Mavi Marmara incident, trade between Israel and Turkey remained healthy between 2010 and 2016. In 2016, Israel exported to Turkey over $1.26 billion in goods and services, while Israeli imports from Turkey that year were worth $2.6 billion.

While Kahlon promised that trade will continue, Israelis will not be eating Turkish produce for a while, Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel said Wednesday. Ariel said that he had ordered a temporary embargo on Turkish produce. “IDF soldiers are busy defending Israelis, and the Turks are busy condemning them,” he said. “President Erdogan preaches morality to everyone, while he himself funds terror groups like Hamas. We have had enough.” Ariel did not say when the embargo would expire.

And while there is no law against Israelis traveling to Turkey, Tourism Minister Yariv Levin recommended Thursday that Israelis not do so. “We have no reason or desire to cut off economic relations with Turkey, but to take a vacation there is something else. Unfortunately, the Turkish leadership continually uses the ‘Israeli issue’ to make headlines and pump up support before elections. I would recommend not traveling to Turkey, and I have been saying this even before the current events. If this is what we can expect from the Turks, then there is no reason to travel there,” he said.