President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Wednesday criticized the Turkish charity group IHH for sabotaging his reconciliation with Israel. The Turkish president insisted the deal is good for the Palestinians, for Turkey, and for Israel.
Erdoğan spoke during an iftar dinner (the meal at the end of the daily Ramadan fast) at the presidential complex in Ankara. He said that the flotilla organizers never asked his permission to sail to Gaza in 2010, when he was a prime minister, causing a needless diplomatic crisis erupted between Turkey and Israel.
Erdoğan’s frontal attack came after the Humanitarian Relief Foundation IHH on Monday criticized the deal saying it amounted to acceptance of the Israeli blockade.
“We were already delivering the same amount of humanitarian aid to Gaza, but without making a show of it. Now we have Israel’s promise, all aid supplies to Gaza will be permitted from now on,” Erdoğan said. He announced that a Turkish ship with 11,000 tons of humanitarian aid is ready to leave for Gaza this Friday, noting that this will become a routine from now on, no need for showboating, so to speak.
Last Monday, after months of talks between the two countries, Turkey and Israel announced that a deal normalizing their relations would be signed. Under the deal, Turkey would be allowed to send humanitarian shipments to Gaza which would be delivered to the Asdod harbor in Israel, examined for contraband and trucked to Gaza; and Israel will pay $20 million in reparations to the families of the Mavi Marmara casualties.
IHH Humanitarian Relief Foundation is a conservative Turkish NGO, whose members are predominantly Turkish Muslims, active in more than 100 countries. Established in 1992 and officially registered in Istanbul in 1995, İHH provides humanitarian relief in areas of war, earthquake, hunger, and conflict. The İHH holds Special Consultative Status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council since 2004.
Two IHH employees were detained for alleged links to al-Qaida, in a Turkish anti-terrorism police raids on January 13, 2014. An IHH spokesman said that police searched its office in Kilis, near the border with Syria, and detained one of its employees. Another IHH employee was detained in Kayseri after police raided his home.
The current president of the İHH, Fehmi Bülent Yıldırım, has been under investigation by specially authorized prosecutors in Istanbul and Diyarbakır for allegedly financing al-Qaeda through his organization. Yildirim also led a memorial service for Chechen leader Shamil Basayev in 2006.
Erdoğan also said that the normalization of relations with Russia and Israel is based on a “win-win” principle. “In other words, both Turkey and Russia must win, both Turkey and Israel must win,” he said.
Earlier on Wednesday, Erdoğan had a phone conversation with Russian president Vladimir Putin, on the way to normalizing relations between the two countries, some seven months after Turkey had downed a Russian jet that it claimed crossed from Syrian into Turkish airspace despite repeated warnings.